Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and Nod-like receptors (NLRs) in inflammatory disorders

Semin Immunol. 2009 Aug;21(4):242-53. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2009.06.005.


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and Nod-like receptors (NLRs) are two major forms of innate immune sensors, which provide immediate responses against pathogenic invasion or tissue injury. Activation of these sensors induces the recruitment of innate immune cells such as macrophages and neutrophils, initiates tissue repair processes, and results in adaptive immune activation. Abnormalities in any of these innate sensor-mediated processes may cause excessive inflammation due to either hyper responsive innate immune signaling or sustained compensatory adaptive immune activation. Recent gene association studies appear to reveal strong associations of NLR gene mutations and development of several idiopathic inflammatory disorders. In contrast, TLR polymorphisms are less often associated with inflammatory disorders. Nevertheless, TLRs are up-regulated in the affected tissue of most inflammatory disorders, suggesting TLR signaling is involved in the pathogenesis of chronic and/or idiopathic inflammatory disorders. NLR signaling results in the formation of a molecular scaffold complex (termed an inflammasome) and orchestrates with TLRs to induce IL-1beta and IL-18, both of which are important mediators in the majority of inflammatory disorders. Therefore, understanding the roles of TLRs and NLRs in the pathogenesis of chronic and idiopathic inflammatory disorders may provide novel targets for the prevention and/or treatment of many common and uncommon diseases involving inflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Nod Signaling Adaptor Proteins / genetics
  • Nod Signaling Adaptor Proteins / immunology*
  • Nod Signaling Adaptor Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Toll-Like Receptors / genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptors / immunology*
  • Toll-Like Receptors / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Nod Signaling Adaptor Proteins
  • Toll-Like Receptors