NOD-like receptors (NLRs) constitute a recently identified family of macromolecules that participate in regulation of innate immune responses. To date, 23 members of the NLR family are identified in humans. Diverse NLRs are stimulated by a broad range of pathogen- or danger-associated molecular patterns, and collectively function as intracellular pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). The most studied inflammasomes are NLRP1 and NLRP3 that process inactive pro-caspase-1 to its active form, allowing the cleavage and subsequent activation of pro-IL-1β and pro-IL-18, and initiation of inflammatory responses. Three models, based upon extracellular ATP/K(+) flux, lysosomal release of cathepsin, and reactive oxygen species, have been proposed to be involved in signaling activation of NLRs and downstream events. In this review, I discuss the current state of knowledge related to the roles of NLRs and inflammasomes in the development of cardiovascular diseases.
Keywords: Cardiovascular diseases; Interleukin 1 beta; Nod-like receptors; inflammasomes; reactive oxygen species.