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Int J STD AIDS. 2010 Mar;21(3):153-7. doi: 10.1258/ijsa.2009.009525.

Toll-like receptors and genital tract infection.

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  • 1Department of GU Medicine, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Hills Road, Cambridge CB22QQ, UK. christopher.sonnex@addenbrokes.nhs.uk

Abstract

Our knowledge of the immune response to genital tract infection has progressed appreciably in recent years. This review focuses on the innate immune system, in particular the role of Toll-like receptors (TLRs), in controlling genital tract infection. Research into the role of TLRs in recognizing 'pathogen-associated molecular patterns' (PAMPS) has provided an important insight into the host's early immune response. TLRs are activated following binding of microbial components leading to cytokine production, which, in turn, stimulate phagocytic and natural killer cells and mobilize T and B lymphocytes of the antigen-specific acquired immune system. The therapeutic use of TLR agonists as topical agents or for improving CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses to microbial vaccines is an important area of ongoing research, particularly with respect to genital mucosal infection.

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