Human-Based Immune Responsive In Vitro Infection Models for Validation of Novel TLR4 Antagonists Identified by Computational Discovery

Helena Merk, Tehila Amran-Gealia, Doris Finkelmeier, Christina Kohl, Isabelle Pichota, Noa Stern, Steffen Rupp*, Amiram Goldblum*, Anke Burger-Kentischer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Infectious diseases are still a major problem worldwide. This includes microbial infections, with a constant increase in resistance to the current anti-infectives employed. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) perform a fundamental role in pathogen recognition and activation of the innate immune response. Promising new approaches to combat infections and inflammatory diseases involve modulation of the host immune system via TLR4. TLR4 and its co-receptors MD2 and CD14 are required for immune response to fungal and bacterial infection by recognition of microbial cell wall components, making it a prime target for drug development. To evaluate the efficacy of anti-infective compounds early on, we have developed a series of human-based immune responsive infection models, including immune responsive 3D-skin infection models for modeling fungal infections. By using computational methods: pharmacophore modeling and molecular docking, we identified a set of 46 potential modulators of TLR4, which were screened in several tests systems of increasing complexity, including immune responsive 3D-skin infection models. We could show a strong suppression of cytokine and chemokine response induced by lipopolysacharide (LPS) and Candida albicans for individual compounds. The development of human-based immune responsive assays provides a more accurate and reliable basis for development of new anti-inflammatory or immune-modulating drugs.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number243
Issue number2
StatePublished - 22 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • 3D-immune-competent Infection models
  • Antagonist
  • Candida albicans
  • Docking
  • Pharmacophore
  • Toll-like receptors


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