DAMPening inflammation by modulating TLR signalling.
Piccinini AM., Midwood KS.
Damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) include endogenous intracellular molecules released by activated or necrotic cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules that are upregulated upon injury or degraded following tissue damage. DAMPs are vital danger signals that alert our immune system to tissue damage upon both infectious and sterile insult. DAMP activation of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) induces inflammatory gene expression to mediate tissue repair. However, DAMPs have also been implicated in diseases where excessive inflammation plays a key role in pathogenesis, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), cancer, and atherosclerosis. TLR activation by DAMPs may initiate positive feedback loops where increasing tissue damage perpetuates pro-inflammatory responses leading to chronic inflammation. Here we explore the current knowledge about distinct signalling cascades resulting from self TLR activation. We also discuss the involvement of endogenous TLR activators in disease and highlight how specifically targeting DAMPs may yield therapies that do not globally suppress the immune system.