Background:Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are expressed in immune cells and hepatocytes. We examined whether hepatic Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) is involved in the acute hepatic injury caused by the administration of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (septic shock model).Methods:Wild type (WT), TLR4-deficient and chimera mice underwent myeloablative bone marrow transplantation to dissociate between TLR4 expression in the liver or in the immune-hematopoietic system. Mice were injected with LPS and sacrificed 4 hours later.Results:Compared to TLR4 deficient mice, WT mice challenged with LPS displayed increased serum liver enzymes and hepatic cellular inflammatory infiltrate together with increased serum and hepatic levels of interleukin 1β (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), Up-regulation of hepatic mRNA encoding TLR4, IκB and c-jun expressions. TLR4 mutant mice transplanted with WT bone marrow were more protected than WT chimeric mice bearing TLR4 mutant hemopoietic cells from LPS, as seen by IL-1β and TNFα levels. We then used hepatocytes (Huh7) and macrophages from monocytic cell lines to detect TLR mRNA expression. Macrophages expressed a significantly higher level of TLR4 mRNA and TLR2 (more than 3000- and 8000-fold respectively) compared with the hepatocyte cell line. LPS administration induced TLR4 activation in a hepatocyte cell line in a dose dependent manner while TLR2 mRNA hardly changed.Conclusions:These results suggest that TLR4 activation of hepatocytes participate in the immediate response to LPS induced hepatic injury. However, in this response, the contribution of TLR4 on bone marrow derived cells is more significant than those of the hepatocytes. The absence of the TLR4 gene plays a pivotal role in reducing hepatic LPS induced injury.