Inflammasomes are multi-protein complexes that mediate activation of caspase-1, which promotes secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β and interleukin-18 and pyroptosis, a form of phagocyte cell death induced by bacterial pathogens. Members of the Nod-like receptor family (including Nlrp1, Nlrp3, and Nlrc4), the DNA sensor Aim2, the adaptor apoptosis-associated speck-like protein (ASC), and pro-caspase-1 are important components of inflammasomes. Stimulation with specific microbial and endogenous molecules leads to inflammasome assembly and caspase-1 activation. Inflammasomes are believed to mediate host defense against microbial pathogens and tissue homeostasis within the intestine, and their dysregulation might contribute to inflammatory diseases and intestinal cancer. Improving our understanding of inflammasome signaling pathways could provide insights into the pathogenesis of many gastrointestinal disorders and the development of therapeutic targets and approaches to treat diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases and gastrointestinal cancers.
Copyright © 2011 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.