Caspases at the crossroads of immune-cell life and death

Nat Rev Immunol. 2006 Apr;6(4):308-17. doi: 10.1038/nri1809.


Caspases are responsible for crucial aspects of inflammation and immune-cell death that are disrupted in a number of genetic autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases. The caspase family of proteases can be divided into pro-apoptotic and pro-inflammatory members based on their substrate specificity and participation in separate signalling cascades. However, as discussed here, evidence has emerged over the past few years that a number of the caspases thought to be involved solely in apoptosis also contribute to specific aspects of immune-cell development, activation and differentiation, and can even protect cells from some forms of cell death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / immunology
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Caspases / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival / immunology
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Drosophila / immunology
  • Drosophila / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / cytology
  • Immune System / enzymology
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Immunological
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Caspases