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J Immunol. 2000 Jun 1;164(11):5998-6004.

Differential expression and regulation of toll-like receptors (TLR) in human leukocytes: selective expression of TLR3 in dendritic cells.

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  • 1Department of Immunology and Cell Biology, Mario Negri Institute, Milan, Italy.


Members of the Toll-like receptor (TLR) family probably play a fundamental role in pathogen recognition and activation of innate immunity. The present study used a systematic approach to analyze how different human leukocyte populations express specific transcripts for the first five characterized TLR family members. TLR1 was expressed in all leukocytes examined, including monocytes, polymorphonuclear leukocytes, T and B cells, and NK cells. In contrast TLR2, TLR4, and TLR5 were expressed in myelomonocytic elements. Exposure to bacterial products, such as LPS or lipoarabinomannan, or to proinflammatory cytokines increased TLR4 expression in monocytes and polymorphonuclear leukocytes, whereas IL-10 blocked this effect. TLR3 was only expressed in human dendritic cells (DC) wherein maturation induced by bacterial products or cytokines was associated with reduced expression. TLR3 mRNA expression was detected by in situ hybridization in DC and lymph nodes. These results demonstrate that TLR1 through TLR5 mRNAs are differentially expressed and regulated in human leukocytes. In particular, expression of TLR3 transcripts is restricted to DC that are the only elements which express the full TLR repertoire. These data suggest that TLR can be classified based on expression pattern as ubiquitous (TLR1), restricted (TLR2, TLR4, and TLR5 in myelomonocytic cells), and specific (TLR3 in DC) molecules.

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