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Clin Infect Dis. 2005 Nov 15;41 Suppl 7:S421-6.

The role of Toll-like receptors in the regulation of neutrophil migration, activation, and apoptosis.

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  • 1Division of Genomic Medicine, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play an essential role in the detection of invading pathogens and in the induction of host antimicrobial defenses. TLR4, the major endotoxin receptor, and TLR2, with agonists derived principally from gram-positive organisms, are likely to be important in the pathogenesis of sepsis. Both TLR2 and TLR4 agonists regulate important neutrophil functions, including adhesion, generation of reactive oxygen species, and release of chemokines, and activate major proinflammatory signaling pathways, including the nuclear factor- kappa B pathway. TLR stimulation produces only a modest direct inhibition of neutrophil apoptosis, although this signal is greatly amplified by the presence of monocytes, suggesting that regulation of the life span of neutrophils by TLR agonists may be principally mediated by responses of other endotoxin-responsive cells. We suggest that activation of neutrophils by TLRs is highly regulated, permitting acute neutrophil antimicrobial responses to TLR activation while providing a "brake" on inflammation by requiring the presence of mononuclear cells to significantly extend neutrophil survival.

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