Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 190–204 | Cite as

Role of the Toll Like Receptor (TLR) Radical Cycle in Chronic Inflammation: Possible Treatments Targeting the TLR4 Pathway

  • Kurt Lucas
  • Michael MaesEmail author


Activation of the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) complex, a receptor of the innate immune system, may underpin the pathophysiology of many human diseases, including asthma, cardiovascular disorder, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disorders, neuroinflammatory disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, clinical depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, alcohol abuse, and toluene inhalation. TLRs are pattern recognition receptors that recognize damage-associated molecular patterns and pathogen-associated molecular patterns, including lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from gram-negative bacteria. Here we focus on the environmental factors, which are known to trigger TLR4, e.g., ozone, atmosphere particulate matter, long-lived reactive oxygen intermediate, pentachlorophenol, ionizing radiation, and toluene. Activation of the TLR4 pathways may cause chronic inflammation and increased production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS) and oxidative and nitrosative stress and therefore TLR-related diseases. This implies that drugs or substances that modify these pathways may prevent or improve the abovementioned diseases. Here we review some of the most promising drugs and agents that have the potential to attenuate TLR-mediated inflammation, e.g., anti-LPS strategies that aim to neutralize LPS (synthetic anti-LPS peptides and recombinant factor C) and TLR4/MyD88 antagonists, including eritoran, CyP, EM-163, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, 6-shogaol, cinnamon extract, N-acetylcysteine, melatonin, and molecular hydrogen. The authors posit that activation of the TLR radical (ROS/RNS) cycle is a common pathway underpinning many “civilization” disorders and that targeting the TLR radical cycle may be an effective method to treat many inflammatory disorders.


Toll-like receptor LPS Inflammation Oxidative and nitrosative stress Cytokines Depression Chronic fatigue 

List of Abbreviations


Acephate (organophosphate insecticide)


Airway hyperresponsiveness


Aryl hydrocarbon receptor


Alfa-lipoic acid


Crohn’s disease


Cluster of differentiation 14


Chronic fatigue syndrome


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Cyclooxygenase-2 (prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2)


Cyanobacterial product


Damage-associated molecular patterns


Extracellular matrix




EM-163 is a synthetic BB-mimetic of MyD88




Hyaluronic acid


High-mobility group protein B1


Heat shock proteins


Inflammatory bowel disease


Interferon gamma












Inducible nitric oxide synthase




LPS-binding protein




LPS from Rhodobactersphaeroides


Myeloid differential protein-2


Myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88




Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease


Neutrophil cytosolic factor 1


Nuclear factor-κB


Nitric oxide


Oxidative and nitrosative stress


Oxidized low-density lipoprotein




Oxidized phospholipids


Pathogen-associated molecular patterns




Particular matter

PM 2.5

is the PM fraction of airborne nanoparticles with a diameter <2.5 μm


Pattern recognition receptors


Recombinant factor C


Reactive nitrogen species


Reactive oxygen intermediates


Reactive oxygen species

Sal B

Salvianolic acid B


Synthetic anti-LPS peptides


Acute respiratory syndrome


Small interfering RNA


Synthetic lipopeptide


TANK-binding kinase 1


Traditional Chinese medicine


Toll–interleukin 1 receptor (TIR) domain containing adaptor protein


Toll-like receptor 1


Toll-like receptor 2


Toll-like receptor 3


Toll-like receptor 4


Toll-like receptor 6


Toll-like receptor 9


Toll-like receptors


Tumor necrosis factor-α


Volatile organic compounds


Conflict of interest

Kurt Lucas has filed two relevant patent applications, i.e., “Cinnamon extract for the treatment of diseases caused by induced “mismanagement” of the innate immune system (October 2011) and “Compositions for the preparation of hydrogen enriched water” (September 2012). MM does not report any conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sportzenkoppel 54HamburgGermany
  2. 2.Piyavate HospitalBangkokThailand
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryChulalongkorn UniversityBangkokThailand
  4. 4.International PNI Reference CenterRoosendaalthe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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