Signalling pathways leading to IFN-alpha production in human plasmacytoid dendritic cell and the possible use of agonists or antagonists of TLR7 and TLR9 in clinical indications

J Intern Med. 2009 Jan;265(1):43-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2008.02050.x.


Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDC) are highly specialized immune cells capable of producing large amounts of type I and III IFN in response to viral infection. This response is mediated through TLR7 and TLR9 signalling pathways. In addition, PDC can differentiate into fully mature dendritic cells able to efficiently crosspresent viral antigens, thus playing an important role in adaptive immunity. This dual property of PDC is being used in clinical settings where synthetic TLR7 and TLR9 ligands are currently evaluated in clinical trials for the treatment of viral infections, allergies and cancers. Interestingly, there is evidence suggesting that chronic activation of PDC by endogenous RNA and DNA containing immune complexes maybe an important mechanism of driving autoimmunity and significant efforts to develop bi-functional antagonists of TLR7 and TLR9 are currently underway.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / prevention & control
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / biosynthesis*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Toll-Like Receptor 7 / agonists
  • Toll-Like Receptor 7 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Toll-Like Receptor 7 / immunology*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 9 / agonists
  • Toll-Like Receptor 9 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Toll-Like Receptor 9 / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / prevention & control


  • Interferon-alpha
  • Toll-Like Receptor 7
  • Toll-Like Receptor 9