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Immunol Cell Biol. 2007 Aug-Sep;85(6):481-9. Epub 2007 Jun 26.

Toll-like receptors in the gonads and reproductive tract: emerging roles in reproductive physiology and pathology.

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Centre for Women's Health Research, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Interactions between the immune system and reproductive system have important consequences for fertility and reproductive health in general. There is increasing evidence that many of the interactions between the immune and reproductive systems involve the Toll-like receptors (TLRs). While there is no doubt that TLRs are important in providing protection against infection in the reproductive tract, there is increasing evidence for the involvement of TLRs in more basic pathology and physiology of reproduction. In the female, TLRs have been implicated in critical aspects of ovarian, endometrial and placental function, as well as in ovarian cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, intrauterine growth restriction, pre-eclampsia and preterm birth. In the male, TLRs appear to play a role in the control of testicular steroidogenesis and spermatogenesis in disease and, potentially, during normal function, as well. Recent studies also have begun to highlight the role of various TLRs in the aetiology of prostatitis and prostatic cancer. Given the nascent state of knowledge concerning this important area, it is clear that more studies are needed, which should provide valuable new insights into the biology of the TLRs and reproductive function in general.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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