Toll-like receptors and innate immunity in gut homeostasis and pathology

Kathrin S Michelsen, Moshe Arditi
Current Opinion in Hematology 2007, 14 (1): 48-54

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Immune responses to commensal bacteria and resulting chronic inflammation are hallmarks of inflammatory bowel disease. Considerable evidence has accumulated to suggest that innate immune defense mechanisms interact with pro-inflammatory pathways and exacerbate or perhaps even initiate development of inflammatory bowel disease.

RECENT FINDINGS: Recent cellular and mouse studies now show Toll-like receptor responses in intestinal epithelial cells are polarized and their activation by commensal bacteria plays an essential role in maintaining colonic homeostasis and controlling tolerance in the gut. Recent data also implicate signaling by Toll-like receptors and the common adaptor molecule MyD88 in intestinal epithelial homeostasis as well as the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease, establishing a key link between the innate and adaptive immune defenses.

SUMMARY: We review recent progresses in the understanding of the role of Toll-like receptors and other pattern recognition receptors in the host defense against gastrointestinal pathogens and maintenance of immune tolerance to commensal bacteria, highlighting areas that should provide fertile ground for future studies aimed at a more comprehensive understanding of the interplay between innate and adaptive immune defense mechanisms and inflammatory bowel disease.

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