Pathogen infections and dysregulated Toll-like receptor (TLR)–mediated innate immune responses are suspected to play key roles in autoimmunity. Among TLRs, TLR7 and TLR9 have been implicated in several autoimmune conditions, mainly because of their ability to promote abnormal B cell activation and survival. Recently, we provided evidence of Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) persistence and reactivation in the thymus of myasthenia gravis (MG) patients, suggesting an involvement of EBV in the intrathymic pathogenesis of the disease. Considerable data highlight the existence of pathogenic crosstalk among EBV, TLR7, and TLR9: EBV elicits TLR7/9 signaling, which in turn can enhance B cell dysfunction and autoimmunity. In this article, after a brief summary of data demonstrating TLR activation in MG thymus, we provide an overview on the contribution of TLR7 and TLR9 to autoimmune diseases and discuss our recent findings indicating a pivotal role for these two receptors, along with EBV, in driving, perpetuating, and/or amplifying intrathymic B cell dysregulation and autoimmune responses in MG. Development of therapeutic approaches targeting TLR7 and TLR9 signaling could be a novel strategy for treating the chronic inflammatory autoimmune process in myasthenia gravis.
- innate immunity
- myasthenia gravis
- Toll-like receptors
- viral infections
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- History and Philosophy of Science