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J Clin Invest. 2015 Aug 3;125(8):3297-302. doi: 10.1172/JCI79337. Epub 2015 Jul 27.

Helicobacter urease-induced activation of the TLR2/NLRP3/IL-18 axis protects against asthma.


Inflammasome activation and caspase-1-dependent (CASP1-dependent) processing and secretion of IL-1β and IL-18 are critical events at the interface of the bacterial pathogen Helicobacter pylori with its host. Whereas IL-1β promotes Th1 and Th17 responses and gastric immunopathology, IL-18 is required for Treg differentiation, H. pylori persistence, and protection against allergic asthma, which is a hallmark of H. pylori-infected mice and humans. Here, we show that inflammasome activation in DCs requires the cytoplasmic sensor NLRP3 as well as induction of TLR2 signaling by H. pylori. Screening of an H. pylori transposon mutant library revealed that pro-IL-1β expression is induced by LPS from H. pylori, while the urease B subunit (UreB) is required for NLRP3 inflammasome licensing. UreB activates the TLR2-dependent expression of NLRP3, which represents a rate-limiting step in NLRP3 inflammasome assembly. ureB-deficient H. pylori mutants were defective for CASP1 activation in murine bone marrow-derived DCs, splenic DCs, and human blood-derived DCs. Despite colonizing the murine stomach, ureB mutants failed to induce IL-1β and IL-18 secretion and to promote Treg responses. Unlike WT H. pylori, ureB mutants were incapable of conferring protection against allergen-induced asthma in murine models. Together, these results indicate that the TLR2/NLRP3/CASP1/IL-18 axis is critical to H. pylori-specific immune regulation.

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