Retinal Pigment Epithelium Expressed Toll-like Receptors and Their Potential Role in Age-Related Macular Degeneration

(1) Background: Inflammation is a major pathomechanism in the development and progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) may contribute to retinal inflammation via activation of its Toll-like receptors (TLR). TLR are pattern recognition receptors that detect the pathogen- or danger-associated molecular pattern. The involvement of TLR activation in AMD is so far not understood. (2) Methods: We performed a systematic literature research, consulting the National Library of Medicine (PubMed). (3) Results: We identified 106 studies, of which 54 were included in this review. Based on these studies, the current status of TLR in AMD, the effects of TLR in RPE activation and of the interaction of TLR activated RPE with monocytic cells are given, and the potential of TLR activation in RPE as part of the AMD development is discussed. (4) Conclusion: The activation of TLR2, -3, and -4 induces a profound pro-inflammatory response in the RPE that may contribute to (long-term) inflammation by induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines, reducing RPE function and causing RPE cell degeneration, thereby potentially constantly providing new TLR ligands, which could perpetuate and, in the long run, exacerbate the inflammatory response, which may contribute to AMD development. Furthermore, the combined activation of RPE and microglia may exacerbate neurotoxic effects.


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