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Volume 11 (2011), Pages 437-453
Review Article

Toll-Like Receptors, Their Ligands, and Atherosclerosis

1Clinical Pharmacology, William Harvey Research Institute, Charterhouse Square, London, UK
2Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center and Mandel Center for Hypertension and Atherosclerosis Research, Durham, NC, USA

Received 13 November 2010; Revised 3 January 2011; Accepted 7 January 2011

Academic Editor: Charles N. Serhan

Copyright © 2011 Conrad Hodgkinson and Shu Ye.


Atherosclerosis is a disease characterized by inflammation in the arterial wall. Atherogenesis is dependent on the innate immune response involving activation of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and the expression of inflammatory proteins. TLRs, which recognize various pathogen-associated molecular patterns, are expressed in various cell types within the atherosclerotic plaque. Microbial agents are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and this is, in part, due to activation of TLRs. Recently considerable evidence has been provided suggesting that endogenous proteins promote atherosclerosis by binding to TLRs. In this review, we describe the role of TLRs in atherosclerosis with particular emphasis on those atherogenic endogenous proteins that have been implicated as TLR ligands.