Toll-like receptors and their role in the trophoblast

Placenta. 2005 Aug;26(7):540-7. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2004.08.010.


The aim of this review is to discuss the role of Toll-like receptors at the maternal-fetal interface and the capacity of trophoblast cells to initiate innate immune responses towards infection. The maternal-fetal interface represents an immunologically unique site that must promote tolerance to the allogenic fetus, whilst maintaining host defense against a diverse array of possible pathogens. Clinical studies have shown a strong association between certain complications of pregnancy and intrauterine infections. Therefore, innate immune responses against microorganisms at the maternal-fetal interface may have a significant impact on the success of a pregnancy. There is growing evidence that trophoblast cells are able to recognize and respond to pathogens through the expression of Toll-like receptors, an important part of innate immunity. This review will discuss the role of Toll-like receptors at the maternal-fetal interface, the potential for trophoblast cells to function as components of the innate immune system and the impact TLR-mediated trophoblast responses may have on pregnancy outcome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apoptosis / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / immunology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / immunology*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • Trophoblasts / immunology*
  • Trophoblasts / pathology


  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Toll-Like Receptors