Role of Toll-like receptors in health and diseases of gastrointestinal tract

World J Gastroenterol. 2006 Apr 14;12(14):2149-60. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v12.i14.2149.


The human gastrointestinal (GI) tract is colonized by non-pathogenic commensal microflora and frequently exposed to many pathogenic organisms. For the maintenance of GI homeostasis, the host must discriminate between pathogenic and non-pathogenic organisms and initiate effective and appropriate immune and inflammatory responses. Mammalian toll-like receptors (TLRs) are members of the pattern-recognition receptor (PRR) family that plays a central role in the initiation of innate cellular immune responses and the subsequent adaptive immune responses to microbial pathogens. Recent studies have shown that gastrointestinal epithelial cells express almost all TLR subtypes characterized to date and that the expression and activation of TLRs in the GI tract are tightly and coordinately regulated. This review summarizes the current understanding of the crucial dual roles of TLRs in the development of host innate and adaptive immune responses to GI infections and the maintenance of the immune tolerance to commensal bacteria through down-regulation of surface expression of TLRs in intestinal epithelial cells.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / immunology*
  • Helicobacter Infections / immunology
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic / immunology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Toll-Like Receptors / physiology*
  • Virus Diseases / immunology


  • Toll-Like Receptors