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J Immunol. 2011 Mar 1;186(5):2714-8. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1002657. Epub 2011 Jan 28.

Cutting edge: cyclic polypeptide and aminoglycoside antibiotics trigger IL-1β secretion by activating the NLRP3 inflammasome.

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  • 1Medizinische Poliklinik, Universität München, Munich, Germany.


Clinical use of antibiotics is based on their capacity to inhibit bacterial growth via bacteriostatic or bacteriocidal effects. In this article, we show that the aminoglycoside antibiotic neomycin, the cyclic lipopeptide antibiotic polymyxin B, and the cyclic peptide antibiotics gramicidin and tyrothricin can induce IL-1β secretion in bone marrow dendritic cells and macrophages. LPS priming was required to trigger the transcription and translation of pro-IL-1β but was independent of TNFR or IL-1R signaling. All four antibiotics required the NLRP3 inflammasome, the adaptor ASC, and caspase-1 activation to secrete IL-1β, a process that depended on potassium efflux but was independent of P2X7 receptor. All four antibiotics induced neutrophil influx into the peritoneal cavity of mice, which required NLRP3 only in the case of polymyxin B. Together, certain antibiotics have the potential to directly activate innate immunity of the host.

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