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Future Oncol. 2011 Feb;7(2):309-20. doi: 10.2217/fon.10.185.

Effects of Toll-like receptor signals in T-cell neoplasms.

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  • 1Children's Hospital, Louisiana State University, Department of Pediatrics Hematology Oncology, New Orleans, LA, USA.


T-cell neoplasms have poor prognosis and few effective therapeutic options. Therefore, identification of factors in T-cell leukemia/lymphoma that are associated with cancer progression may represent novel therapeutic targets. Recent studies have highlighted a previously unappreciated role for the expression of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) on T cells and their effects on cell survival and proliferation. TLRs can bind exogenous molecules derived from pathogens as well as endogenous self-ligands released from damaged cells. Recent reports demonstrate that TLR engagement on primary mouse or human T cells enhances proliferation and/or cell survival. The mechanisms by which TLR stimulation on T cells influences these parameters and the different T-cell subsets that are affected by TLR stimulation are currently under investigation. Furthermore, neither the biological importance of stimulating TLRs on neoplastic T cells nor the prevalence of TLR expression in T-cell malignancies have yet to be characterized. Based on published reports and compelling preliminary data, we propose that the activation of the TLR-MyD88 signaling pathway in neoplastic T cells contributes to disease progression by reducing cell death and enhancing cell division. In this article, we present both theoretical arguments and experimental data in support of this hypothesis.

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