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J Immunol. 2002 Dec 1;169(11):6401-7.

Caspase-1-deficient mice have delayed neutrophil apoptosis and a prolonged inflammatory response to lipopolysaccharide-induced acute lung injury.

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Respiratory Medicine Unit, Division of Genomic Medicine, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.


Caspase-1, the prototypic caspase, is known to process the cytokines IL-1beta and IL-18 to mature forms but it is unclear whether, like other caspases, it can induce apoptosis by activation of downstream protease cascades. Neutrophils are known to express caspase-1, to release IL-1beta and to undergo rapid, caspase-dependent apoptosis. We examined apoptosis and IL-1beta production in peripheral blood neutrophils of caspase-1-deficient and wild-type mice. Constitutive apoptosis of caspase-1-deficient neutrophils was delayed compared with wild-type neutrophils and LPS-mediated inhibition of apoptosis was absent, but caspase-1-deficient neutrophils were susceptible to Fas-mediated apoptosis. LPS-stimulated IL-1beta production was absent from caspase-1-deficient neutrophils. To ascertain whether these differences in apoptosis and IL-1beta production would alter the response to acute lung injury, we studied pulmonary neutrophil accumulation following intratracheal administration of LPS. Caspase-1-deficient mice showed increased, predominantly neutrophilic pulmonary inflammation, but inflammation had resolved in both wild-type and deficient animals by 72 h after LPS instillation. IL-1beta production was increased in wild-type lungs but was also detected in caspase-1-deficient mice. We conclude that caspase-1 modulates apoptosis of both peripheral blood and inflammatory neutrophils, but is not essential for IL-1beta production in the lung.

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