Modulation of endothelial function by Toll like receptors

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Endothelial cells (EC) are able to actively control vascular permeability, coagulation, blood pressure and angiogenesis. Most recently, a role for endothelial cells in the immune response has been described. Therefore, the endothelium has a dual role controlling homeostasis but also being the first line for host defence and tissue damage repair thanks to its ability to mount an inflammatory response. Endothelial cells have been shown to express pattern-recognition receptors (PRR) including Toll-like receptors (TLR) that are activated in response to stimuli within the bloodstream including pathogens and damage signals. TLRs are strategic mediators of the immune response in endothelial cells but they also regulate the angiogenic process critical for tissue repair. Nevertheless, endothelial activation and angiogenesis can contribute to some pathologies. Thus, inappropriate endothelial activation, also known as endothelial dysfunction, through TLRs contributes to tissue damage during autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, ischemia and diabetes associated cardiovascular diseases. Also TLR induced angiogenesis is required for the growth of some tumors, atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, among others. In this review we discuss the importance of various TLRs in modulating the activation of endothelial cells and their importance in immunity to infection and vascular disease as well as their potential as therapeutic targets.

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