Innate immune receptors and autophagy: implications for autoimmune kidney injury

Kidney Int. 2010 Jul;78(1):29-37. doi: 10.1038/ki.2010.111. Epub 2010 Apr 28.


Inflammation is the immune system's response to infectious or noninfectious sources of danger. Danger recognition is facilitated by various innate immune receptor families including the Toll-like receptors (TLRs), which detect danger signals in extracellular and intracellular compartments. It is an evolving concept that renal damage triggers intrarenal inflammation by immune recognition of molecules that are being released by dying cells. Such danger-associated molecules act as immunostimulatory agonists to TLRs and other innate immune receptors and induce cytokine and chemokine secretion, leukocyte recruitment, and tissue remodeling. As a new entry to this concept, autophagy allows stressed cells to reduce intracellular microorganisms, protein aggregates, and cellular organelles by moving and subsequently digesting them in autophagolysosomes. Within the autophagolysosome, endogenous molecules and danger-associated molecules may be presented to TLRs or loaded onto the major histocompatibility complex and presented as autoantigens. Here we discuss the current evidence for the danger signaling concept in autoimmune kidney injury and propose that autophagy-related processing of self-proteins provides a source of immunostimulatory molecules and autoantigens. A better understanding of danger signaling should enable us to unravel yet unknown triggers for renal immunopathology and progressive kidney disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infections / immunology
  • Infections / metabolism
  • Infections / pathology
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Kidney / immunology*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney Diseases / immunology
  • Kidney Diseases / metabolism
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology
  • Receptors, Immunologic / immunology
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Toll-Like Receptors / immunology*
  • Toll-Like Receptors / metabolism


  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Toll-Like Receptors