Sensing pathogens and danger signals by the inflammasome

Curr Opin Immunol. 2009 Feb;21(1):10-6. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2009.01.006. Epub 2009 Feb 14.


The NLR (nucleotide-binding domain leucine-rich repeat containing) family of intracellular sensors is a crucial component of the innate immune system. A number of NLR family members can form multiprotein complexes, called inflammasomes, and are capable of activating the cysteine protease caspase-1 in response to a wide range of stimuli including both microbial and self-molecules. Caspase-1 activation leads to processing and secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and IL-18, which play crucial roles in host defense to infectious insults. Dysregulation of the inflammasome has also been linked to a number of autoinflammatory and autoimmune disorders. Recent advances in the inflammasome field will be discussed in this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / genetics
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / genetics
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics
  • Bacterial Infections / genetics*
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins / genetics
  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins / immunology*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / immunology*
  • Caspase 1 / genetics
  • Caspase 1 / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / immunology*
  • Interleukin-1beta / immunology
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Signal Transduction


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • NLRC3 protein, human
  • NLRC4 protein, human
  • NLRP1 protein, human
  • Caspase 1