Recognition of damage-associated molecular patterns related to nucleic acids during inflammation and vaccination

Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2013 Jan 8;2:168. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2012.00168. eCollection 2012.


All mammalian cells are equipped with large numbers of sensors for protection from various sorts of invaders, who, in turn, are equipped with molecules containing pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). Once these sensors recognize non-self antigens containing PAMPs, various physiological responses including inflammation are induced to eliminate the pathogens. However, the host sometimes suffers from chronic infection or continuous injuries, resulting in production of self-molecules containing damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). DAMPs are also responsible for the elimination of pathogens, but promiscuous recognition of DAMPs through sensors against PAMPs has been reported. Accumulation of DAMPs leads to massive inflammation and continuous production of DAMPs; that is, a vicious circle leading to the development of autoimmune disease. From a vaccinological point of view, the accurate recognition of both PAMPs and DAMPs is important for vaccine immunogenicity, because vaccine adjuvants are composed of several PAMPs and/or DAMPs, which are also associated with severe adverse events after vaccination. Here, we review as the roles of PAMPs and DAMPs upon infection with pathogens or inflammation, and the sensors responsible for recognizing them, as well as their relationship with the development of autoimmune disease or the immunogenicity of vaccines.

Keywords: DAMPs (damage-associated molecular patterns); DNA sensors; PAMPs (pathogen-associated molecular patterns); innate immunity; metabolites; nucleic acids; uric acid; vaccine adjuvant.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Nucleic Acids / immunology*
  • Nucleic Acids / metabolism
  • Receptors, Immunologic / immunology*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Vaccines / immunology*


  • Nucleic Acids
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Vaccines