Toll-Like Receptor 2 (TLR2) Knockout Abrogates Diabetic and Obese Phenotypes While Restoring Endothelial Function via Inhibition of NOX1

We have previously demonstrated a novel role of bone morphogenic protein 4 (BMP4) in inducing NOX1-dependent endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) uncoupling, endothelial dysfunction, and inflammatory activation in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). However, how BMP4 activates NOX1 and whether targeting the new mechanistic pathway revealed is effective in preserving endothelial function in T2DM remains unclear. In this study, we observed that BMP4 induced a marked, time-dependent increase in physiological binding between TLR2 and NOX1 in aortic endothelial cells as well as increased binding of TLR2 to NOXO1. In TLR2 knockout (Tlr2–/–) mice fed high-fat diet, body weight gain was significantly less compared with wild-type (WT) mice both in males and females. The high-fat diet–induced increases in fasting blood glucose levels, as well as in circulating insulin and leptin levels, were absent in Tlr2–/– mice. High-fat feeding induced increases in overall fat mass, and in fat mass of different pockets were abrogated in Tlr2–/– mice. Whereas energy intake was similar in high-fat–fed WT and Tlr2–/– mice, TLR2 deficiency resulted in higher energy expenditure attributable to improved physical activity, which was accompanied by restored skeletal muscle mitochondrial function. In addition, TLR2 deficiency recoupled eNOS, reduced total superoxide production, improved H4B and NO bioavailabilities in aortas, and restored endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation. Collectively, our data strongly indicate that TLR2 plays important roles in the development of metabolic features of T2DM and its related endothelial/vascular dysfunction. Therefore, targeting TLR2 may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for T2DM, obesity, and cardiovascular complications via specific inhibition of NOX1.