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Volume 11 (2011), Pages 981-991
Mini-Review Article

Toll-Like Receptors in Angiogenesis

Cardiology and Angiology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

Received 11 January 2011; Revised 25 March 2011; Accepted 29 March 2011

Academic Editor: Bernhard Schaller

Copyright © 2011 Karsten Grote et al.


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are known as pattern-recognition receptors related to the Toll protein of Drosophila. After recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns of microbial origin, the TLRs alert the immune system, and initiate innate and adaptive immune responses. The TLR system, though, is not confined solely to the leukocyte-mediated immune defense against exogenous pathogens. Besides myeloid cells, TLR expression has been reported in multiple tissues and cell types, including epithelial and endothelial cells. Moreover, despite the microbial patterns that are commonly accepted as TLR ligands, there is increasing evidence that TLRs also recognize host-derived molecules. In this regard, recent studies point to an involvement of TLRs in various chronic inflammatory disorders and cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and even cancer. A common feature of these disorders is an enhanced so-called inflammation-induced angiogenesis. However, inflammation-induced angiogenesis is not solely a key component of pathogen defense during acute infection or chronic inflammatory disorders, but also plays a critical role in repair mechanisms, e.g., wound healing and subsequent tissue regeneration. Interestingly, the latest research could coincidentally demonstrate that TLR activation promotes angiogenesis in various inflammatory settings in response to both exogenous and endogenous ligands, although the precise mode of action of TLRs in this context still remains ambiguous. The objective of this review is to present evidence for the implication of TLRs in angiogenesis during physiological and pathophysiological processes, and the potential clinical relevance for new treatment regimes involving TLR modulation.