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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2011, Article ID 405310, 12 pages
Review Article

Innate Immune Recognition of Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Department of Medicine, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre and Nijmegen Institute for Infection, Inflammation and Immunity (N4i), Geert Grooteplein Zuid 8, 6525 GA Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Received 25 December 2010; Accepted 29 January 2011

Academic Editor: Taro Kawai

Copyright © 2011 Johanneke Kleinnijenhuis et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), is a major health problem, with 10 million new cases diagnosed each year. Innate immunity plays an important role in the host defense against M. tuberculosis, and the first step in this process is recognition of MTB by cells of the innate immune system. Several classes of pattern recognition receptors (PPRs) are involved in the recognition of M. tuberculosis, including Toll-like receptors (TLRs), C-type lectin receptors (CLRs), and Nod-like receptors (NLRs). Among the TLR family, TLR2, TLR4, and TLR9 and their adaptor molecule MyD88 play the most prominent roles in the initiation of the immune response against tuberculosis. In addition to TLRs, other PRRs such as NOD2, Dectin-1, Mannose receptor, and DC-SIGN are also involved in the recognition of M. tuberculosis. Human epidemiological studies revealed that genetic variation in genes encoding for PRRs and downstream signaling products influence disease susceptibility, severity, and outcome. More insight into PRRs and the recognition of mycobacteria, combined with immunogenetic studies in TB patients, does not only lead to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of tuberculosis but also may contribute to the design of novel immunotherapeutic strategies.