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Host Innate Immune Responses to Microbial Pathogens

[ Vol. 11 , Issue. 2 ]


Julie Delaloye and Thierry Calandra   Pages 123 - 132 ( 10 )


Sepsis is among the leading causes of death worldwide and its incidence is increasing. Defined as the host response to infection, sepsis is a clinical syndrome considered to be the expression of a dysregulated immune reaction induced by danger signals that may lead to organ failure and death. Remarkable progresses have been made in our understanding of the molecular basis of host defenses in recent years. The host defense response is initiated by innate immune sensors of danger signals designated under the collective name of pattern-recognition receptors. Members of the family of microbial sensors include the complement system, the Toll-like receptors, the nucleotide-binding oligomerization domainlike receptors, the RIG-I-like helicases and the C-type lectin receptors. Ligand-activated pattern-recognition receptors kick off a cascade of intracellular events resulting in the expression of co-stimulatory molecules and release of effector molecules playing a fundamental role in the initiation of the innate and adaptive immune responses. Fine tuning of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory reactions is critical for keeping the innate immune response in check. Overwhelming or dysregulated responses induced by infectious stimuli may have dramatic consequences for the host as shown by the profound derangements observed in sepsis. Unfortunately, translational research approaches aimed at the development of therapies targeting newly identified innate immune pathways have not held their promises. Indeed, all recent clinical investigations of adjunctive anti-sepsis treatments had little, if any, impact on morbidity and all-cause mortality of sepsis. Dissecting the mechanisms underlying the transition from infection to sepsis is essential for solving the sepsis enigma. Important components of the puzzle have already been identified, but the hunt must go on in the laboratory and at the bedside.


Sepsis, innate immunity, pattern recognition receptors, Toll-like receptors, nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptors, RIG-I-like receptors, C-type lectin receptors, cytokine


Infectious Diseases Service, Department of Medicine, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.

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