The role of lipopolysaccharide/toll-like receptor 4 signaling in chronic liver diseases

Hepatol Int. 2010 Oct 21;4(4):659-72. doi: 10.1007/s12072-010-9219-x.


Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) is a pattern recognition receptor that functions as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) sensor and whose activation results in the production of several pro-inflammatory, antiviral, and anti-bacterial cytokines. TLR4 is expressed in several cells of healthy liver. Despite the constant confrontation of hepatic TLR4 with gut-derived LPS, the normal liver does not show signs of inflammation due to its low expression of TLR4 and ability to modulate TLR4 signaling. Nevertheless, there is accumulating evidence that altered LPS/TLR4 signaling is a key player in the pathogenesis of many chronic liver diseases (CLD). In this review, we first describe TLR4 structure, ligands, and signaling. Later, we review liver expression of TLR4 and discuss the role of LPS/TLR4 signaling in the pathogenesis of CLD such as alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic hepatitis C, chronic hepatitis B, primary sclerosing cholangitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, hepatic fibrosis, and hepatocarcinoma.

Keywords: Chronic liver diseases; Lipopolysaccharide; Toll-like receptor 4.