The inflammasome: in memory of Dr. Jurg Tschopp

Cell Death Differ. 2012 Jan;19(1):5-12. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2011.159. Epub 2011 Nov 11.


A decade ago, Jurg Tschopp introduced the concept of the inflammasome. This exciting discovery of a macromolecular complex that senses 'danger' and initiates the inflammatory response contributed to a renaissance in the fields of innate immunity and cell death. Jurg led the biochemical characterization of the inflammasome complex and demonstrated that spontaneous hyperactivation of this interleukin (IL)-1β processing machinery is the molecular basis of a spectrum of hereditary periodic fever syndromes, caused by mutated forms of the inflammasome scaffolding receptor, NLRP3. The identification of the underlying mechanism in these disorders has led to their now successful therapy, with the use of the IL-1 receptor antagonist in the clinic. Jurg's pioneering work has subsequently defined a number of inflammasome agonists ranging from microbial molecules expressed during infection, to triggers of sterile inflammation, most notably gout-associated uric acid crystals, asbestos, silica and nanoparticles. More recently, Jurg introduced the critical new concept of the metabolic inflammasome, which senses metabolic stress and contributes to the onset of the metabolic syndrome associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Jurg was an outstanding and skillful biochemist, an elegant and rigorous researcher often far ahead of his peers. He was a truly amiable person, fair, generous and inspiring, and will be most remembered for his infectious enthusiasm. We write this review article on the inflammasome in his honor and dedicate it to his memory.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / history
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Death / genetics
  • Cell Death / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / history
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Inflammasomes / history*
  • Inflammasomes / immunology
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / history*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Interleukin-1beta / genetics
  • Interleukin-1beta / history
  • Interleukin-1beta / immunology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / history
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Mice
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • Obesity / history
  • Obesity / metabolism


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Inflammasomes
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • NLRP3 protein, human

Personal name as subject

  • Jurg Tschopp