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Brain Pathol. 2017 Mar;27(2):213-219. doi: 10.1111/bpa.12477.

Inflammasome activation in multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).

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Department of Immunology, Duke University Medical School, Durham, NC.
Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University Medical School, Durham, NC.


The aptly named inflammasomes are powerful signaling complexes that sense inflammatory signals under a myriad of conditions, including those from infections and endogenous sources. The inflammasomes promote inflammation by maturation and release of the pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-1β and IL-18. Several inflammasomes have been identified so far, but this review focuses mainly on the NLRP3 inflammasome. By still ill-defined activation mechanisms, a sensor molecule, NLRP3 (NACHT, LRR and PYD domains-containing protein 3), responds to danger signals and rapidly recruits ASC (apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD) and pro-caspase-1 to form a large oligomeric signaling platform-the inflammasome. Involvement of the NLRP3 inflammasome in infections, metabolic disorders, autoinflammation, and autoimmunity, underscores its position as a central player in sensing microbial and damage signals and coordinating pro-inflammatory immune responses. Indeed, evidence in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) suggests inflammasome activation occurs during disease. Experiments with the mouse model of MS, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), specifically describe the NLRP3 inflammasome as critical and necessary to disease development. This review discusses recent studies in EAE and MS which describe associations of inflammasome activation with promotion of T cell pathogenicity, infiltration of cells into the central nervous system (CNS) and direct neurodegeneration during EAE and MS.


IFNβ; IL-1β; NLRP3; experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE); inflammasomes; multiple sclerosis (MS)

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