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ScientificWorldJournal. 2011;11:2037-50. doi: 10.1100/2011/212680. Epub 2011 Nov 1.

Role of the inflammasome, IL-1β, and IL-18 in bacterial infections.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Biochemistry, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN 38163, USA.


The inflammasome is an important innate immune pathway that regulates at least two host responses protective against infections: (1) secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-18 and (2) induction of pyroptosis, a form of cell death. Inflammasomes, of which different types have been identified, are multiprotein complexes containing pattern recognition receptors belonging to the Nod-like receptor family or the PYHIN family and the protease caspase-1. The molecular aspects involved in the activation of different inflammasomes by various pathogens are being rapidly elucidated, and their role during infections is being characterized. Production of IL-1β and IL-18 and induction of pyroptosis of the infected cell have been shown to be protective against many infectious agents. Here, we review the recent literature concerning inflammasome activation in the context of bacterial infections and identify important questions to be answered in the future.


Innate immunity; Interleukin-18; Interleukin-1β; Nod-like receptors; Toll-like receptors; and bacterial infection; caspase-1; inflammasome; inflammation; pattern recognition receptors

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