The Toll-like receptor family was originally identified in Drosophila, where it provides important developmental and immunological signalling. In mammals, the developmental signal appears to have been lost, but the immunological defence role of these receptors has been expanded to provide broad recognition of bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic pathogens. There is increasing evidence that these receptors go beyond the recognition of microbial molecules to sense host tissue damage. Recognition of host molecules and commensal microbes is also involved in the restoration of normal tissue architecture after injury and in maintenance of epithelial health. Recent developments in the TLR field highlight the importance of these molecules to human health and disease and demonstrate that their targeting, to boost immunity or inhibit inflammation, is both feasible and also potentially challenging.
2007 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland