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J Pediatr. 2004 Apr;144(4):421-9.

Innate immunity and toll-like receptors: clinical implications of basic science research.

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Steven Spielberg Pediatric Research Center, Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA.


Humans are constantly exposed to a wide variety of microorganisms that can cause infection. In self-defense, the human host has evolved complex protective mechanisms, and Toll-like receptors (TLRs) have emerged as a central point in defense. These receptors bind molecular structures that are expressed by microbes but are not expressed by the human host, eg, lipopolysaccharides (LPS) or double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). Activation of these receptors initiates an inflammatory cascade that attempts to clear the offending pathogen and set in motion a specific adaptive immune response. Defects in sensing of pathogens may predispose the host to recurrent infections. The relative rarity of these syndromes of defective innate immunity, however, speaks to the redundancy in sensing of pathogens by the innate immune system. More common, polymorphisms in TLR4 are associated with increased predisposition to severe and recurrent infections but protection against atherosclerotic disease due to diminished inflammation. Toll-like receptor signaling may also contribute to the pathophysiology of disease and injure the host by activating a deleterious immune response such as in sepsis or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The focus of this article is to describe the role of TLRs in the innate immune response in health and disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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