TLR4 at the crossroads of nutrients, gut microbiota, and metabolic inflammation

Licio A. Velloso, Franco Folli, Mario J. Saad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Obesity isaccompaniedbytheactivation oflow-gradeinflammatoryactivity in metabolically relevant tissues. Studies have shown that obesity-associated insulin resistance results from the inflammatory targeting and inhibition of key proteins of the insulin-signaling pathway. At least three apparently distinct mechanisms-endoplasmic reticulum stress, toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 activation,andchanges in gut microbiota-havebeenidentified as triggers of obesityassociated metabolic inflammation; thus, they are expected to represent potential targets for the treatment of obesity and its comorbidities. Here, we review the data that place TLR4 in the center of the events that connect the consumption of dietary fats with metabolic inflammation and insulin resistance. Changes in the gut microbiota can lead to reduced integrity of the intestinal barrier, leading to increased leakage of lipopolysaccharidesandfatty acids, which can act upon TLR4 to activate systemic inflammation. Fatty acids can also trigger endoplasmic reticulum stress, which can be further stimulated by cross talk with active TLR4. Thus, the current data support a connection among the three main triggers of metabolic inflammation, and TLR4 emerges as a link among all of these mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-271
Number of pages27
JournalEndocrine Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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