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Cardiovasc Res. 2013 Jul 1;99(1):164-74. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvt091. Epub 2013 Apr 10.

The NLRP3 inflammasome is up-regulated in cardiac fibroblasts and mediates myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion injury.

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Research Institute of Internal Medicine, Oslo University Hospital Rikshospitalet, Oslo N-0027, Norway.



Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-Like Receptor with a Pyrin domain 3 (NLRP3) is considered necessary for initiating a profound sterile inflammatory response. NLRP3 forms multi-protein complexes with Apoptosis-associated Speck-like protein containing a Caspase recruitment domain (ASC) and Caspase-1, which activate pro-interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and pro-IL-18. The role of NLRP3 in cardiac cells is not known. Thus, we investigated the expression and function of NLRP3 during myocardial ischaemia.


Myocardial infarction (MI) was induced in adult C57BL/6 mice and Wistar rats by ligation of the coronary artery. A marked increase in NLRP3, IL-1β, and IL-18 mRNA expression was found in the left ventricle after MI, primarily located to myocardial fibroblasts. In vitro studies in cells from adult mice showed that myocardial fibroblasts released IL-1β and IL-18 when primed with lipopolysaccharide and subsequently exposed to the danger signal adenosine triphosphate, a molecule released after tissue damage during MI. When hearts were isolated from NLRP3-deficient mice, perfused and subjected to global ischaemia and reperfusion, a marked improvement of cardiac function and reduction of hypoxic damage was found compared with wild-type hearts. This was not observed in ASC-deficient hearts, potentially reflecting a protective role of other ASC-dependent inflammasomes or inflammasome-independent effects of NLRP3.


This study shows that the NLRP3 inflammasome is up-regulated in myocardial fibroblasts post-MI, and may be a significant contributor to infarct size development during ischaemia-reperfusion.


Heart; IL-1β; Inflammasome; Ischaemia–reperfusion; Myocardial infarction

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