Background: The Q705K polymorphism in NLRP3 has been implicated in several chronic inflammatory diseases. In this study we determine the functional role of this commonly occurring polymorphism using an in-vitro system.
Principal findings: NLRP3-WT and NLRP3-Q705K were retrovirally transduced into the human monocytic cell line THP-1, followed by the assessment of IL-1β and IL-18 levels in the cell culture supernatant. THP-1 cells expressing the above NLRP3 variants were sorted based upon Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) expression. Cytokine response to alum (one of the most widely used adjuvants in vaccines) in the cells stably expressing NLRP3-WT and NLRP3-Q705K were determined. IL-1β and IL-18 levels were found to be elevated in THP-1 cells transduced with NLRP3-Q705K compared to the NLRP3-WT. Upon exposure to alum, THP-1 cells stably expressing NLRP3-Q705K displayed an increased release of IL-1β, IL-18 and TNF-α, in a caspase-1 and IL-1 receptor-dependent manner.
Conclusions: Collectively, these findings show that the Q705K polymorphism in NLRP3 is a gain-of-function alteration leading to an overactive NLRP3 inflammasome. The option of IL-1β blockade may be considered in patients with chronic inflammatory disorders that are unresponsive to conventional treatments.