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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2009;653:15-34.

Pattern recognition by Toll-like receptors.

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Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie, Immunologie und Hygiene, Technische Universität München, München, Germany.


The mammalian immune system senses pathogens through pattern recognition receptors and responds with activation. The Toll-like receptors (TLRs) that are expressed on antigen presenting cells such as macrophages and dendritic cells play a critical role in this process. Their signaling activates these cells and leads to an innate immune response with subsequent initiation of an adaptive immune response. Each TLR recognizes specific structures and induces common inflammatory cytokines. However, some TLRs have specific functions, such as induction of Type I interferons. The TLR dependent cytokine response is reflected in the induction of common and specific signaling pathways leading to adequate immune responses for different pathogens. Some TLRs are also activated by endogenous structures that are released during infection, but these structures may promote or sustain autoimmune diseases under certain circumstances. In addition, TLRs directly shape adaptive immune responses of T and B cells and play an important role in homeostasis of gut epithelium and lung repair after injury.

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