Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 343, Issue 1, pp 141–152 | Cite as

Insights into the role of Toll-like receptors in modulation of T cell responses

  • Raveendra Kulkarni
  • Shahriar Behboudi
  • Shayan Sharif


The innate immune receptors, such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs), are intimately involved in the early sensing of invading microorganisms or their structural components. Engagement of TLRs with their ligands results in activation of several downstream intracellular pathways leading to activation of innate and adaptive immune system cells. It was initially thought that TLRs are primarily expressed by antigen-presenting cells (APCs), such as macrophages and dendritic cells, and that interactions between microbial ligands and TLRs in these cells will indirectly result in activation of cells of the adaptive immune system, especially T cells. However, it has now become evident that TLRs are also expressed by various T cell subsets, such as conventional αβT cells, regulatory T cells, and γδT cells as well as natural killer T cells. Importantly, it appears that at least in some of these T cell subsets, TLRs are functionally active, because stimulation of these cells with TLR agonists in the absence of APCs results in exertion of effector or regulatory functions of T cells. The present review attempts to summarize the recent findings related to TLR expression in different T cell subsets and the direct role of TLRs in the induction and regulation of T cell responses, including those responses that occur at mucosal surfaces. In addition, the potential use of TLR agonists for steering T cell responses as a prophylactic or therapeutic strategy in the context of infectious, allergic or autoimmune diseases is explored.


T cells Toll-like receptors Innate immunity Immune response Mucosal immunity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raveendra Kulkarni
    • 1
  • Shahriar Behboudi
    • 2
  • Shayan Sharif
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary CollegeUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Institute of HepatologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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