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Cell Death Dis. 2013 May 23;4:e644. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2013.169.

NLRP3 activation induces ASC-dependent programmed necrotic cell death, which leads to neutrophilic inflammation.

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Department of Dermatology, Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba, Japan.


NLR family pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) is a cytoplasmic pattern recognition receptor that regulates innate immune responses by forming a protein complex, the inflammasome. It leads to production of proinflammatory cytokine productions such as interleukin 1β (IL-1β). We and others demonstrated that an induction of activated NLRP3 also induced cell death. However, little is known about the characteristics and mechanisms of the cell death and its involvement in the pathogenesis of inflammatory conditions. In this study, we established cell lines in which NLRP3 was induced by doxycycline using a tetracycline-inducible expression (Tet-on) system. Using this system, the expression of NLRP3 mutants in cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome (CAPS) patients was sufficient for the induction of necrotic cell death without lipopolysaccharide stimulation or generation of mature IL-1β. We also found that CA074-Me, a cathepsin B inhibitor, blocked cell death before oligomerization of apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD (ASC), whereas Z-VAD-fmk, a pan-caspase inhibitor, blocked the cell death after the oligomerization. Silencing of the ASC gene (Pycard) by small hairpin RNA treatment inhibited the NLRP3 mutant-induced cell death, but silencing of the caspase-1 gene (Casp1) did not. Taken together, these results indicated that ASC was indispensable for NLRP3-mediated programmed necrotic cell death, and that this type of cell death was distinct from 'pyroptosis', which requires caspase-1. Finally, we demonstrated in an in vivo model that the programmed necrotic cell death induced by activated NLRP3 could cause neutrophil infiltration, indicating a possible role of cell death in neutrophil infiltration of skin lesions in CAPS patients.

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