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J Immunol. 2009 Aug 1;183(3):2008-15. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0900138. Epub 2009 Jul 8.

NLRP3 (NALP3, Cryopyrin) facilitates in vivo caspase-1 activation, necrosis, and HMGB1 release via inflammasome-dependent and -independent pathways.

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  • 1Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Bacterial infection elicits a range of beneficial as well as detrimental host inflammatory responses. Key among these responses are macrophage/monocyte necrosis, release of the proinflammatory factor high-mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1), and induction of the cytokine IL-1. Although the control of IL-1beta has been well studied, processes that control macrophage cell death and HMGB1 release in animals are poorly understood. This study uses Klebsiella pneumonia as a model organism because it elicits all three responses in vivo. The regulation of these responses is studied in the context of the inflammasome components NLRP3 and ASC, which are important for caspase-1 activation and IL-1beta release. Using a pulmonary infection model that reflects human infection, we show that K. pneumonia-induced mouse macrophage necrosis, HMGB1, and IL-1beta release are dependent on NLRP3 and ASC. K. pneumoniae infection of mice lacking Nlrp3 results in decreased lung inflammation and reduced survival relative to control, indicating the overall protective role of this gene. Macrophage/monocyte necrosis and HMGB1 release are controlled independently of caspase-1, suggesting that the former two responses are separable from inflammasome-associated functions. These results provide critical in vivo validation that the physiologic role of NLRP3 and ASC is not limited to inflammasome formation.

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