Inflammasomes and their roles in health and disease

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2012;28:137-61. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-101011-155745. Epub 2012 Sep 10.


Inflammasomes are a set of intracellular protein complexes that enable autocatalytic activation of inflammatory caspases, which drive host and immune responses by releasing cytokines and alarmins into circulation and by inducing pyroptosis, a proinflammatory cell death mode. The inflammasome type mediating these responses varies with the microbial pathogen or stress factor that poses a threat to the organism. Since the discovery that polymorphisms in inflammasome genes are linked to common autoimmune diseases and less frequent periodic fever syndromes, inflammasome signaling has been dissected at the molecular level. In this review, we present recently gained insight on the distinct inflammasome types, their activation and effector mechanisms, and their modulation by microbial virulence factors. In addition, we discuss recently gained knowledge on the role of deregulated inflammasome activity in human autoinflammatory, autoimmune, and infectious diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism
  • Inflammasomes / physiology*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Interleukins / metabolism
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / metabolism
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / physiology


  • Inflammasomes
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Interleukins
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition
  • Caspases