Objective: Sepsis and its sequelae are the leading cause of death in critically ill patients. Discovery in the late 1990s of Toll-like receptors as primary sensors of microbial infection led to significant advances in understanding the pathogenesis of sepsis, including emerging differences between Gram-positive and Gram-negative infection and the potential for the manipulation of Toll-like receptors for the treatment of sepsis. This review describes these advances.
Methods: Bibliographic search of the literature since 1999, with particular emphasis on the conceptual and therapeutic implications of Toll-like receptors for patients with systemic sepsis.
Results and conclusions: Toll-like receptors initiate the inflammatory processes that underlie the clinical response to infection and therefore represent an important putative target for therapeutic intervention.