Toll-like receptors and the eye

Alessandra Micera, Barbara Stampachiacchiere, Silvia Aronni, Myrna Serapiao dos Santos, Alessandro Lambiase
Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology 2005, 5 (5): 451-8

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This review will describe the structure, expression/distribution and functional activity of Toll-like receptors, in particular in the ocular structures. It will also discuss innate and adaptive immune responses, by exploring the possible modulation/regulation of innate and adaptive immunity by Toll-like receptors, in view of recent findings observed in the ocular surface.

RECENT FINDINGS: Current knowledge indicates that Toll-like receptors represent essential elements in host defence against pathogens, a prerequisite to the induction of adaptive immune responses. The expression/distribution of Toll-like receptors in the healthy eye highlights the possible function of Toll-like receptors in both innate and adaptive responses during pathological conditions of the ocular surface.

SUMMARY: Recent findings have greatly increased the knowledge of the possible role of Toll-like receptors in innate and adaptive immune responses. Toll-like receptors seem to play different roles in a wide range of activities of the immune system, and might represent an exclusive link between innate and adaptive responses under pathological conditions. Recent studies in ophthalmology have highlighted the role of Toll-like receptors in infections (keratitis) as well as in allergic states of the ocular surface. This review thus describes the relationship between Toll-like receptors and the main immune/structural cells taking part in inflammatory disorders. Understanding the complex mechanisms underlying Toll-like receptor localization and function will provide additional data that might help devise novel therapeutic approaches involving Toll-like receptors and their agonists, in an attempt to modulate the biased immune system.

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