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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Mar;67(3):247-53. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glr226. Epub 2012 Mar 5.

The role of Toll-like receptors in age-associated lung diseases.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, PO Box 208057, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


The aging lung is faced with unique challenges. The lungs are the only internal organ with a direct interface with both the internal and the external environments and as a consequence are constantly sampling diverse, potentially injurious, elements. Therefore, the lungs have evolved a sophisticated, multilayered detection system to distinguish low-level, nonharmful signals from those that are toxic. A family of innate immune receptors, Toll-like receptors (TLRs), appears to serve such a function. Initially described as pattern-recognition receptors that recognize and protect against microbes, TLRs can also respond to diverse, nonmicrobial signals. The role of Toll-like receptors in noninfectious, age-related chronic lung disease is poorly understood. This review presents our current understanding of the biology of age-related lung diseases with a focus on the role of Toll-like receptors in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and late-onset asthma.

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