Toll-like receptors and their role in gastrointestinal disease

Adam G Testro, Kumar Visvanathan
Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2009, 24 (6): 943-54
The innate immune response to invading pathogens is centred upon a family of non-clonal, germline-encoded pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), the Toll-like receptors (TLRs). These provide specificity for a vast range of microbial pathogens, and offer an immediate anti-microbial response system. Thirteen mammalian TLRs have been described; 10 are expressed in humans, each responsible for the recognition of distinct, invariant microbial structures originating from bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa. The two most thoroughly studied are TLR4 and TLR2, the PRRs for Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacterial products, respectively. TLR4 is also the major receptor recognising endogenous ligands released from damaged or dying cells. Activation of a TLR by its relevant ligand rapidly ignites a complex intracellular signaling cascade that ultimately results in upregulation of inflammatory genes and production of proinflammatory cytokines, interferons and recruitment of myeloid cells. It also stimulates expression, upon antigen presenting cells, of co-stimulatory molecules required to induce an adaptive immune response. Whilst a robust TLR response is critical for survival and defence against invading pathogens, inappropriate signaling in response to alterations in the local microflora environment can be detrimental. Such 'unhelpful TLR responses' could form the basis for a large number of gastrointestinal and liver disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease, viral hepatitis, autoimmune liver diseases and hepatic fibrosis. As our understanding of TLRs expands, the pathogenesis of a number of gastrointestinal disorders will be further elucidated, and this offers potential for specific therapies aimed directly at TLR signaling.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"