Toll-like receptors modulate adult hippocampal neurogenesis

Nat Cell Biol. 2007 Sep;9(9):1081-8. doi: 10.1038/ncb1629. Epub 2007 Aug 19.


Neurogenesis - the formation of new neurons in the adult brain - is considered to be one of the mechanisms by which the brain maintains its lifelong plasticity in response to extrinsic and intrinsic changes. The mechanisms underlying the regulation of neurogenesis are largely unknown. Here, we show that Toll-like receptors (TLRs), a family of highly conserved pattern-recognizing receptors involved in neural system development in Drosophila and innate immune activity in mammals, regulate adult hippocampal neurogenesis. We show that TLR2 and TLR4 are found on adult neural stem/progenitor cells (NPCs) and have distinct and opposing functions in NPC proliferation and differentiation both in vitro and in vivo. TLR2 deficiency in mice impaired hippocampal neurogenesis, whereas the absence of TLR4 resulted in enhanced proliferation and neuronal differentiation. In vitro studies further indicated that TLR2 and TLR4 directly modulated self-renewal and the cell-fate decision of NPCs. The activation of TLRs on the NPCs was mediated via MyD88 and induced PKCalpha/beta-dependent activation of the NF-kappaB signalling pathway. Thus, our study identified TLRs as players in adult neurogenesis and emphasizes their specified and diverse role in cell renewal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Drosophila melanogaster* / anatomy & histology
  • Drosophila melanogaster* / physiology
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Hippocampus / growth & development*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88 / genetics
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88 / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2 / genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2 / metabolism*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / metabolism*


  • Myd88 protein, mouse
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88
  • NF-kappa B
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4