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Exp Neurol. 2012 Apr;234(2):316-29. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2011.09.038. Epub 2011 Oct 6.

Toll-like receptors in chronic pain.

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Discipline of Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences, University of Adelaide, South Australia, 5005, Australia.


Proinflammatory central immune signaling contributes significantly to the initiation and maintenance of heightened pain states. Recent discoveries have implicated the innate immune system, pattern recognition Toll-like receptors in triggering these proinflammatory central immune signaling events. These exciting developments have been complemented by the discovery of neuronal expression of Toll-like receptors, suggesting pain pathways can be activated directly by the detection of pathogen associated molecular patterns or danger associated molecular patterns. This review will examine the evidence to date implicating Toll-like receptors and their associated signaling components in heightened pain states. In addition, insights into the impact Toll-like receptors have on priming central immune signaling systems for heightened pain states will be discussed. The influence possible sex differences in Toll-like receptor signaling have for female pain and the recognition of small molecule xenobiotics by Toll-like receptors will also be reviewed.

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