Effects of Aging on Human Toll-Like Receptor Function

  • Albert C. ShawEmail author
Living reference work entry


While most studies of immune system aging have focused on the B- and T-cell responses in adaptive immunity, the innate immune system also shows age-related changes in function that reflect a combination of alterations in cell signaling and the effects of age-related chronic inflammation, including the activation of innate immune pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) by endogenous ligands. Here, we provide an overview of the effects of age on the function of one family of innate immune PRRs, the toll-like receptors (TLRs), which recognize conserved motifs in pathogens as well as endogenous ligands associated with cellular damage. In general, TLR function is diminished in monocytes and dendritic cells from older compared to young adults, but is dependent upon cell differentiation state and tissue context. Such age-associated alterations in TLR function contribute to inflammatory dysregulation and impaired innate immune priming of adaptive immunity, resulting in decreased responses to pathogens or vaccines in older adults.


Innate immunity Toll-like-receptor Aging Human Damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) Monocyte Dendritic cell 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious DiseasesYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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