Inflammasomes are multi-protein complexes that assemble in response to cellular infection, cellular stress or tissue damage. Inflammasomes provide signalling platforms for the activation of caspase-1, which in turn triggers lytic cell death and the maturation and secretion of the interleukins (IL), IL-1β and IL-18, which co-ordinate host-protective inflammatory responses. Recent studies also highlight emerging roles for interleukin-independent pathways in exerting microbial control. This article reviews cytokine-dependent and cytokine-independent host defence pathways engaged by inflammasomes during infection. Such inflammatory and antimicrobial mechanisms include the recruitment and activation of immune cells, the production of lipid mediators and complement proteins, the induction of the acute-phase and fever responses, the modulation of serum metallic ion content and the release of intracellular bacteria by pyroptotic cell death.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.