The role of Toll-like receptors in age-associated lung diseases

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Mar;67(3):247-53. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glr226. Epub 2012 Mar 5.


The aging lung is faced with unique challenges. The lungs are the only internal organ with a direct interface with both the internal and the external environments and as a consequence are constantly sampling diverse, potentially injurious, elements. Therefore, the lungs have evolved a sophisticated, multilayered detection system to distinguish low-level, nonharmful signals from those that are toxic. A family of innate immune receptors, Toll-like receptors (TLRs), appears to serve such a function. Initially described as pattern-recognition receptors that recognize and protect against microbes, TLRs can also respond to diverse, nonmicrobial signals. The role of Toll-like receptors in noninfectious, age-related chronic lung disease is poorly understood. This review presents our current understanding of the biology of age-related lung diseases with a focus on the role of Toll-like receptors in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and late-onset asthma.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / immunology*
  • Rats
  • Toll-Like Receptors / immunology*


  • Toll-Like Receptors