Role of the innate immune system in host defence against bacterial infections: focus on the Toll-like receptors

J Intern Med. 2007 Jun;261(6):511-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2007.01821.x.


The innate immunity plays a critical role in host protection against pathogens and it relies amongst others on pattern recognition receptors such as the Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and the nucleotide-binding oligomerization domains proteins (NOD-like receptors, NLRs) to alert the immune system of the presence of invading bacteria. Since their recent discovery less than a decade ago, both TLRs and NLRs have been shown to be crucial in host protection against microbial infections but also in homeostasis of the colonizing microflora. They recognize specific microbial ligands and with the use of distinct adaptor molecules, they activate different signalling pathways that in turns trigger subsequent inflammatory and immune responses that allows a immediate response towards bacterial infections and the initiation of the long-lasting adaptive immunity. In this review, we will focus on the role of the TLRs against bacterial infections in humans in contrast to mice that have been used extensively in experimental models of infections and discuss their role in controlling normal flora or nonpathogenic bacteria. We also highlight how bacteria can evade recognition by TLRs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Intestines / immunology
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Mice
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Toll-Like Receptors / metabolism*


  • Toll-Like Receptors