Particulate ligands including cholesterol crystals and amyloid fibrils induce NLRP3-dependent production of interleukin-1β (IL-1β) in atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. Soluble endogenous ligands including oxidized-LDL, amyloid-β and amylin peptides accumulate in these diseases. Here we identify a CD36-mediated endocytic pathway that coordinates the intracellular conversion of these soluble ligands to crystals or fibrils, resulting in lysosomal disruption and NLRP3-inflammasome activation. Consequently, macrophages lacking CD36 failed to elicit IL-1β production in response to these ligands and targeting CD36 in atherosclerotic mice reduced serum IL-1β and plaque cholesterol crystal accumulation. Collectively, these findings highlight the importance of CD36 in the accrual and nucleation of NLRP3 ligands from within the macrophage and position CD36 as a central regulator of inflammasome activation in sterile inflammation.
Inflammasomes are cytosolic multi-protein complexes that form in response to infectious or injurious challenges. Inflammasomes control the activity of caspase-1, which is essential for the maturation and release of IL-1b family cytokines. The NLRP1, IPAF and AIM2 inflammasomes recognize specific substances, while the NLRP3 inflammasome responds to many structurally and chemically diverse triggers. Here, we discuss the critical roles of priming and lysosomal damage in NLRP3 inflammasome activation.
Inflammasome; NLRP3; IL-1b
The cells of the innate immune system mobilize a coordinated immune response towards invading microbes and after disturbances in tissue homeostasis. These immune responses typically lead to infection control and tissue repair. Exaggerated or uncontrolled immune responses, however, can also induce acute of chronic inflammatory pathologies that are characteristic for many common diseases such as sepsis, arthritis, atherosclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease. In recent years the concerted efforts of many scientists have uncovered numerous mechanisms by which immune cells detect foreign or changed self-substances that appear in infections or during tissue damage. These substances stimulate signaling receptors, which leads to cellular activation and the induction of effector mechanisms. Here, we review the role of inflammasomes, a family of signaling molecules that form multi-molecular signaling platforms and activate inflammatory caspases and IL-1β cytokines.
Monocytes/Macrophages < Cell Lineages and Subsets; Neutrophils < Cell Lineages and Subsets; Toll-like Receptors/Pattern Recognition Receptors < Molecules; Inflammation < Processes; Adapter proteins < Molecules; Lipopolysaccharide < Molecules
Viral RNA is sensed by TLR 7 and 8 or by the RNA helicases LGP2, MDA5 and RIG-I to trigger antiviral responses. Much less is known about sensors for DNA. Here we identify a novel DNA sensing pathway involving RNA polymerase III and RIG-I. AT-rich dsDNA serve as a template for RNA polymerase III, which is transcribed into dsRNA harboring a 5′ triphosphate moiety which signals via RIG-I to activate type I IFN gene transcription and NF-κB. This pathway is also important in sensing Epstein-Barr virus encoded small RNAs, which are transcribed by RNA polymerase III and then trigger RIG-I activation. Thus, RNA Pol III and RIG-I play a pivotal role in coordinating anti-viral defenses in the innate immune response.
Fas, a tumor necrosis factor family receptor, is activated by the membrane protein Fas ligand (FasL) expressed on various immune cells. Fas signaling triggers apoptosis and induces inflammatory cytokine production. Among the Fas induced cytokines, the IL-1β family cytokines require proteolysis to gain biological activity. Inflammasomes, which respond to pathogens and danger signals, cleave IL-1β cytokines via caspase-1. The mechanisms, by which Fas regulates IL-1β activation, however, remain unresolved. Here, we demonstrate that macrophages exposed to TLR ligands upregulate Fas, which renders them responsive to receptor engagement by Fas ligand. Fas signaling activates caspase-8 in macrophages and dendritic cells leading to the maturation of IL-1β and IL-18 independently of inflammasomes or Rip3. Hence, Fas controls a novel non-canonical IL-1β activation pathway in myeloid cells, which could play an essential role in inflammatory processes, tumor surveillance and control of infectious diseases.
Toll-like receptor-9 (TLR9) is largely responsible for discriminating self from pathogenic DNA. However, association of host DNA with autoantibodies activates TLR9, inducing the pathogenic secretion of type I interferons (IFNs) from plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). Here, we found that in response to DNA-containing immune complexes (DNA-IC), but not to soluble ligands, IFN-α production depended upon the convergence of the phagocytic and autophagic pathways, a process called microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B-light chain 3 (LC3)-associated phagocytosis (LAP). LAP was required for TLR9 trafficking into a specialized interferon signaling compartment by a mechanism that involved autophagy-related proteins, but not the conventional autophagic preinitiation complex, or adaptor protein-3 (AP-3). Our findings unveil a new role for nonconventional autophagy in inflammation and provide one mechanism by which anti-DNA autoantibodies, such as those found in several autoimmune disorders, bypass the controls that normally restrict the apportionment of pathogenic DNA and TLR9 to the interferon signaling compartment.
Alzheimer´s Disease (AD) is the world’s most common dementing illness. Deposition of amyloid beta peptide (Aβ) drives cerebral neuroinflammation by activating microglia1,2. Indeed, Aβ activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome in microglia is fundamental for IL-1β maturation and subsequent inflammatory events3. However, it remains unknown whether NLRP3 activation contributes to AD in vivo. Here, we demonstrate strongly enhanced active caspase-1 expression in human MCI and AD brains suggesting a role for the inflammasome in this neurodegenerative disease. NLRP3−/− or caspase-1−/− mice carrying mutations associated with familiar AD were largely protected from loss of spatial memory and other AD-associated sequelae and demonstrated reduced brain caspase-1 and IL-1β activation as well as enhanced Aβ clearance. Furthermore, NLRP3 inflammasome deficiency skewed microglial cells to an M2 phenotype and resulted in the decreased deposition of Aβ in the APP/PS1 model of Alzheimer’s disease. These results reveal an important role for the NLRP3 / caspase-1 axis in AD pathogenesis, and suggest that NLRP3 inflammasome inhibition represents a novel therapeutic intervention for AD.
Inflammasomes are key signalling platforms that detect pathogenic microorganisms and sterile stressors, and that activate the highly pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and IL-18. In this Review, we discuss the complex regulatory mechanisms that facilitate a balanced but effective inflammasome-mediated immune response, and we highlight the similarities to another molecular signalling platform — the apoptosome — that monitors cellular health. Extracellular regulatory mechanisms are discussed, as well as the intracellular control of inflammasome assembly, for example, via ion fluxes, free radicals and autophagy
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a critical role in innate immunity against pathogens. Their stimulation induces the activation of NF-κB, an important inducer of HIV-1 replication. In recent years, an increasing number of studies using several cells types from HIV-infected patients indicate that TLRs play a key role in regulating the expression of proinflammatory cytokines and viral pathogenesis. In the present study, the effect of HIV-1 stimulation of monocyte-derived macrophage (MDM) and peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) subpopulations from healthy donors on the expression and functions of TLR2 and TLR4 was examined. In addition, and to complete the in vitro study, the expression pattern of TLR2 and TLR4 in 49 HIV-1-infected patients, classified according to viral load and the use of HAART, was determined and compared with 25 healthy subjects. An increase of TLR expression and production of proinflammatory cytokines were observed in MDMs and PBMCs infected with HIV-1 in vitro and in response to TLR stimulation, compared to the mock. In addition, an association between TLR expression and up-regulation of CD80 in plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) was observed. The ex vivo analysis indicated increased expression of TLR2 and TLR4 in myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs), but only of TLR2 in monocytes obtained from HIV-1-infected patients, compared to healthy subjects. Remarkably, the expression was higher in cells from patients who do not use HAART. In monocytes, there was a positive correlation between both TLRs and viral load, but not CD4+ T cell numbers. Together, our in vitro and ex vivo results suggest that TLR expression and function can be up-regulated in response to HIV-1 infection and could affect the inflammatory response. We propose that modulation of TLRs represents a mechanism to promote HIV-1 replication or AIDS progression in HIV-1-infected patients.
Type I interferon (IFN) is an important host defense cytokine against intracellular pathogens, mainly viruses. In assessing IFN production in response to group B streptococcus (GBS), we find that IFN-β was produced by macrophages upon stimulation with both heat-killed and live GBS. Exposure of macrophages to heat-killed GBS activated a Toll-like receptor (TLR)-dependent pathway, whereas live GBS activated a TLR/NOD/RIG-like receptor (RLR)-independent pathway. This latter pathway required bacterial phagocytosis, proteolytic bacterial degradation, and phagolysosomal membrane destruction by GBS pore-forming toxins, leading to the release of bacterial DNA into the cytosol. GBS DNA in the cytosol induced IFN-β production via a pathway dependent on the activation of the serine-threonine kinase TBK1 and phosphorylation of the transcription factor IRF3. Thus, activation of IFN-α/-β production during infection with GBS, commonly considered an extracellular pathogen, appears to result from the interaction of GBS DNA with a putative intracellular DNA sensor or receptor.
The ability for a host to recognize infection is critical for virus clearance and often begins with induction of inflammation. The PB1-F2 of pathogenic influenza A viruses (IAV) contributes to the pathophysiology of infection, although the mechanism for this is unclear. The NLRP3-inflammasome has been implicated in IAV pathogenesis, but whether IAV virulence proteins can be activators of the complex is unknown. We investigated whether PB1-F2-mediated activation of the NLRP3-inflammasome is a mechanism contributing to overt inflammatory responses to IAV infection. We show PB1-F2 induces secretion of pyrogenic cytokine IL-1β by activating the NLRP3-inflammasome, contributing to inflammation triggered by pathogenic IAV. Compared to infection with wild-type virus, mice infected with reverse engineered PB1-F2-deficient IAV resulted in decreased IL-1β secretion and cellular recruitment to the airways. Moreover, mice exposed to PB1-F2 peptide derived from pathogenic IAV had enhanced IL-1β secretion compared to mice exposed to peptide derived from seasonal IAV. Implicating the NLRP3-inflammasome complex specifically, we show PB1-F2 derived from pathogenic IAV induced IL-1β secretion was Caspase-1-dependent in human PBMCs and NLRP3-dependent in mice. Importantly, we demonstrate PB1-F2 is incorporated into the phagolysosomal compartment, and upon acidification, induces ASC speck formation. We also show that high molecular weight aggregated PB1-F2, rather than soluble PB1-F2, induces IL-1β secretion. Furthermore, NLRP3-deficient mice exposed to PB1-F2 peptide or infected with PB1-F2 expressing IAV were unable to efficiently induce the robust inflammatory response as observed in wild-type mice. In addition to viral pore forming toxins, ion channel proteins and RNA, we demonstrate inducers of NLRP3-inflammasome activation may include disordered viral proteins, as exemplified by PB1-F2, acting as host pathogen ‘danger’ signals. Elucidating immunostimulatory PB1-F2 mediation of NLRP3-inflammasome activation is a major step forward in our understanding of the aetiology of disease attributable to exuberant inflammatory responses to IAV infection.
Influenza virus is a highly contagious respiratory pathogen that can cause pandemics, resulting in the deaths of millions worldwide. Previously we demonstrated that PB1-F2 protein produced by pathogenic influenza induces overwhelming inflammatory responses to infection, which enhances disease. The way in which PB1-F2 causes this overt inflammation is unclear. Recently, influenza virus was shown to be involved in activating the inflammasome, which plays a pivotal role during inflammatory responses to infection. However, whether virulence factors such as PB1-F2 produced by the virus can play a role in activation of the inflammasome is unknown. Here, we investigated whether PB1-F2 could have a role in activation of the inflammasome. Using detection of the inflammatory cytokine IL-1β as a marker for inflammasome complex activation, we definitively show PB1-F2 from a pathogenic strain rapidly induces activation of the inflammasome in humans and mice. Using macrophages from mice lacking components of the inflammasome complex, induction of inflammation was shown to be Caspase-1 and NLRP3-dependent. Inflammation induced by PB1-F2 was abrogated in NLRP3-deficient mice. To our knowledge, this is the first description of the mechanism of PB1-F2-mediated inflammasome complex activation. Our work provides further understanding of the contribution of PB1-F2 to enhancing inflammation during influenza infections.
Recognition of DNA by the innate immune system is central to anti-viral and anti-bacterial defenses, as well as an important contributor to autoimmune diseases involving self DNA. AIM2 (absent in melanoma 2) and IFI16 (interferon-inducible protein 16) have been identified as DNA receptors that induce inflammasome formation and interferon production, respectively. Here we present the crystal structures of their HIN domains in complex with double-stranded (ds) DNA. Non-sequence specific DNA recognition is accomplished through electrostatic attraction between the positively charged HIN domain residues and the dsDNA sugar-phosphate backbone. An intramolecular complex of the AIM2 Pyrin and HIN domains in an autoinhibited state is liberated by DNA binding, which may facilitate the assembly of inflammasomes along the DNA staircase. These findings provide novel mechanistic insights into dsDNA as the activation trigger and oligomerization platform for the assembly of large innate signaling complexes such as the inflammasomes.
stress; inflammasome activation; HMGB1; IL-1; DAMPs; PRR; acute inflammation; chronic inflammation
The ability to trigger an innate immune response against opportunistic pathogens associated with HIV-1 infection is an important aspect of AIDS pathogenesis. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a critical role in innate immunity against pathogens, but in HIV-1 patients coinfected with opportunistic infections, the regulation of TLR expression has not been studied. In this context, we have evaluated the expression of TLR2 and TLR4 in monocytes, plasmacytoid dendritic cells, and myeloid dendritic cells of HIV-1 patients with or without opportunistic infections. Forty-nine HIV-1-infected individuals were classified according to viral load, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), and the presence or absence of opportunistic infections, and 21 healthy subjects served as controls. Increased expression of TLR2 and TLR4 was observed in myeloid dendritic cells of HIV-1 patients coinfected with opportunistic infections (without HAART), while TLR4 increased in plasmacytoid dendritic cells, compared to both HIV-1 without opportunistic infections and healthy subjects. Moreover, TLR2 expression was higher in patients with opportunistic infections without HAART and up-regulation of TLR expression in HIV-1 patients coinfected with opportunistic infections was more pronounced in dendritic cells derived from individuals coinfected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The results indicate that TLR expression in innate immune cells is up-regulated in patients with a high HIV-1 load and coinfected with opportunistic pathogens. We suggest that modulation of TLRs expression represents a mechanism that promotes HIV-1 replication and AIDS pathogenesis in patients coinfected with opportunistic pathogens.
Synthetic oligonucleotides containing CpG motifs (CpG ODNs) have been shown to induce proliferation, differentiation and cytokine production in B cells, macrophages and DCs through a TLR9-dependent mechanism. A class (CpG-A) and B class (CpG-B) ODNs display distinct physical properties. CpG-A, but not CpG-B, can multimerize to form exceedingly large lattices. CpG-A cannot effectively activate B cells but does induce pDCs to produce high levels of IFNα, while CpG-B is a potent B cell mitogen. Here we report that CpG-A is internalized by B cells, and CpG-A and CpG-B accumulate to distinct intracellular compartments. When present in the form of an immune complex (CpG-A IC), CpG-A is taken up more efficiently by AM14 IgG2a-specific B cells, and elicits a robust TLR9-dependent B cell proliferative response. B cells proliferating comparably and in a TLR9-dependent fashion in response to CpG-A IC and CpG-B exhibited distinct cytokine profiles. CpG-A IC induced enhanced production of RANTES and markedly reduced levels of IL-6 when compared to CpG-B. We also found that engagement of the AM14 BCR by a protein IC, which cannot by itself induce proliferation, promoted TLR9-dependent but BCR-independent proliferation by bystander CpG-A or fragments of mammalian dsDNA. These data identify direct and indirect mechanisms by which BCR engagement facilitates access of exogenous ligands to TLR9-associated compartments and subsequent B cell activation.
A strong link between inflammation and metabolism is becoming increasingly evident. A number of recent landmark studies have implicated the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, an interleukin-1β family cytokine-activating protein complex, in a variety of metabolic diseases including obesity, atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes. Here we review these new developments and discuss their implications for better understanding inflammation in metabolic disease and the prospects of targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome for therapeutic intervention.
The molecular mechanism behind alum adjuvanticity is probably the oldest secret of immunology. In this issue of Immunity, Kuroda et al. (Kuroda, 2011) and Kool et al. (Kool, 2011) identify NLRP3 protein-independent signaling to be crucial for the Th2 cell response induced by aluminum salts.
Toll-like receptor (TLR)9 performs our innate response to bacterial DNA, warning us of the presence of infection. Inhibitory oligodeoxyribonucleotides (INH-ODN) have been developed that selectively block activation of mouse TLR9. Their inhibitory motif consisting of CCx(not-C)(not-C)xxGGG (x = any base) also reduces anti-DNA antibodies in lupus mice. The current study demonstrates that this motif also provides the sequences required to block TLR9 in human B cells and human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells transfected with human TLR9. However, extending the sequence by four to five bases at the 5' end enhanced activity and this enhancement was greater when a phosphorothioate (pS) backbone replaced the native phosphodiester (pO) backbone. A series of pO-backbone INH-ODN representing a 500-fold range of activity in biologic assays was shown to cover less than a 2.5-fold range of avidity for binding human TLR9-Ig fusion protein, eliminating TLR9 ectodomain binding as the explanation for sequence-specific differences in biologic activity. With few exceptions, the relative activity of INH-ODN in Namalwa cells and HEK/human TLR9 cells was similar to that seen in mouse B cells. INH-ODN activity in human peripheral blood B cells correlated significantly with the cell line data. These results favor the conclusion that although the backbone determines strength of TLR9 binding, critical recognition of the INH-ODN sequence necessary for biologic activity is performed by a molecule that is not TLR9. These studies also identify the strongest INH-ODN for human B cells, helping to guide the selection of INH-ODN sequences for therapeutics in any situation where inflammation is enhanced by TLR9.
B cells; human; systemic lupus erythematosus; Toll-like receptors
Development of atherosclerosis, which is the leading cause of death in developed countries is due to persistent chronic inflammation in the artery wall. Exciting discoveries related to IL-1R-TLR signaling in development of atherosclerosis plaque have triggered intense interest in the molecular mechanisms by which innate immune signaling modulates the onset and development of atherosclerosis. Previous studies have clearly shown the definitive role of proinflammatory cytokine IL-1 in the development of atherosclerosis. Removal of IL-1 or IL-1R reduced vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis in ApoE−/− mice. Recent studies have provided direct evidence supporting a link between innate immunity and atherogenesis. While it is still controversial about whether infectious pathogens contribute to cardiovascular diseases, direct genetic evidence indicates the importance of TLR-IL-1R signaling in atherogenesis.
Methods and Results
To investigate the specific role of IRAK4 kinase in the development of atherosclerosis, IRAK4 kinase inactive knockin (IRAK4KI) mice were bred onto ApoE−/− mice to generate IRAK4KI/ApoE−/− mice. The aortic sinus lesion formation was impaired in IRAK4KI/ApoE−/− mice compared to that in ApoE−/− mice. Furthermore, proinflammatory cytokine production was reduced in the aortic sinus region of IRAK4KI/ApoE−/− mice compared to that in ApoE−/− mice. Importantly, the IRAK4 kinase activity was required for modified LDL-induced IκBα phosphorylation (NFκB activation) and expression of a subset of proinflammatory genes, but not for the activation of MAPKs in bonemarrow-derived macrophage (BMDM). Importantly, inactivation of IRAK4 kinase had no effect on modified LDL uptake and foam cell formation in BMDM.
Taken together, our results indicate that the IRAK4 kinase plays an important role in modified LDL-mediated signaling and the development of atherosclerosis, suggesting that pharmacological inhibition of IRAK4 kinase activity might be a feasible approach in the development of anti-atherosclerosis drugs.
The inflammasome pathway functions to regulate caspase-1 activation in response to a broad range of stimuli. Caspase-1 activation is required for the maturation of the pivotal pro-inflammatory cytokines of the pro-IL-1β family. In addition, caspase-1 activation leads to a certain type of cell death known as pyroptosis. Activation of the inflammasome has been shown to play a critical role in the recognition and containment of various microbial pathogens, including the intracellularly replicating Listeria monocytogenes; however, the inflammasome pathways activated during L. monocytogenes infection are only poorly defined. Here, we demonstrate that L. monocytogenes activates both the NLRP3 and the AIM2 inflammasome, with a predominant involvement of the AIM2 inflammasome. In addition, L. monocytogenes-triggered cell death was diminished in the absence of both AIM2 and NLRP3, and is concomitant with increased intracellular replication of L. monocytogenes. Altogether, these data establish a role for DNA sensing through the AIM2 inflammasome in the detection of intracellularly replicating bacteria.
Listeria monocytogenes; Inflammasome; caspase-1; AIM2; NLRP3
Myeloid differentiation factor 2 (MD-2) is a secreted glycoprotein that assembles with Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) to form a functional signaling receptor for bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). In this study we have identified a novel alternatively spliced isoform of human MD-2, termed MD-2 short (MD-2s), which lacks the region encoded by exon 2 of the MD-2 gene. Similar to MD-2, MD-2s is glycosylated and secreted. MD-2s also interacted with LPS and TLR4, but failed to mediate LPS-induced NF-κB activation and interleukin-8 production. We show that MD-2s is upregulated upon IFN-γ, IL-6 and TLR stimulation and negatively regulates LPS-mediated TLR4 signaling. Furthermore, MD-2s competitively inhibited binding of MD-2 to TLR4. Our study therefore pinpoints a mechanism that may be employed to regulate TLR4 activation at the onset of signaling and identifies MD-2s as a potential therapeutic candidate to treat human diseases characterized by an overly exuberant or chronic immune response to LPS.
The fibrillar peptide amyloid-β (Aβ) has a chief function in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Interleukin 1β (IL-1β) is a key cytokine in the inflammatory response to Aβ. Insoluble materials such as crystals activate the inflammasome formed by the cytoplasmic receptor NALP3, which results in the release of IL-1β. Here we identify the NALP3 inflammasome as a sensor of Aβ in a process involving the phagocytosis of Aβ and subsequent lysosomal damage and release of cathepsin B. Furthermore, the IL-1β pathway was essential for the microglial synthesis of proinflammatory and neurotoxic factors, and the inflammasome, caspase-1 and IL-1β were critical for the recruitment of microglia to exogenous Aβ in the brain. Our findings suggest that activation of the NALP3 inflammasome is important for inflammation and tissue damage in Alzheimer’s disease.
In response to injurious or infectious agents caspase-1 activating multiprotein complexes, termed inflammasomes, assemble in the cytoplasm of cells. Activated caspase-1 cleaves the pro-forms of the interleukin-1 cytokine family members leading to their activation and secretion. The IL-1 family cytokines have multiple pro-inflammatory activities implicating them in the pathogenesis of many inflammatory diseases. While defined ligands have been identified for the NLRP1, IPAF and AIM2 inflammasomes, little is known about the activation mechanisms of the NLRP3 inflammasome. Numerous different molecular entities, such as various crystals, pore-forming toxins or extracellular ATP can trigger the NLRP3 inflammasome. Recent work proposes that NLRP3 is activated indirectly by host factors that are generated in response to NLRP3 triggers.