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Eur J Immunol. 2014 Dec;44(12):3696-707. doi: 10.1002/eji.201444673. Epub 2014 Oct 22.

The adaptor ASC exacerbates lethal Listeria monocytogenes infection by mediating IL-18 production in an inflammasome-dependent and -independent manner.

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Department of Microbiology, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto, Japan.


Listeria monocytogenes induces the formation of inflammasomes and subsequent caspase-1 activation, and the adaptor apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD (ASC) is crucial for this response. However, the role of ASC in L. monocytogenes infection in vivo is unclear. In this study, we demonstrate that ASC has a detrimental effect on host defense against L. monocytogenes infection at a lethal dose (10(6) CFU), but not at a sublethal dose (10(3) CFU). During lethal L. monocytogenes infection, serum levels of IL-18 and IL-10 were markedly elevated in WT mice, but not in ASC KO mice. IL-18 KO mice were more resistant to lethal L. monocytogenes infection than WT mice and had lower levels of serum IL-10. Furthermore, blockade of IL-10 receptor resulted in a reduction in bacterial counts, suggesting that ASC and IL-18 might exacerbate L. monocytogenes infection through induction of IL-10. We noticed that maturation of IL-18 during lethal infection was partially independent of caspase-1, but was critically dependent on ASC. ASC was required for the elevation of serum neutrophil serine protease activity, which correlated with caspase-1-independent IL-18 maturation and IL-10 production. Collectively, these results suggest that ASC plays a detrimental role in lethal L. monocytogenes infection through IL-18 production in an inflammasome-dependent and -independent manner.


ASC; Caspase-1; IL-18; Inflammasome; Listeria monocytogenes

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