NLRP-3 inflammasome is one of several intracellular danger recognition platforms that integrates infectious or non-infectious types of danger into the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines to set-up inflammation for danger control. NLRP3 activation induces three types of caspase-1-mediated responses: secretion of IL-1beta, secretion of IL-18 and a programmed form of cell death, referred to as pyroptosis. Similar to the well-documented impact of Toll-like receptor-driven danger signalling in kidney disease, evolving data now suggest a similar involvement of the NLRP3 inflammasome in renal inflammation. Here, we discuss the accumulating data on NLRP3 in the kidney: its IL-1beta and IL-18-dependent 'canonical' effects and the current evidence for its 'non-canonical' effects, e.g. in tumor growth factor (TGF)-beta signalling, epithelial-mesenchymal transition and fibrosis. Research in this area will certainly uncover yet unknown aspects of danger signalling in the kidney and how it drives renal inflammation and immunopathology.
Keywords: crystal nephropathy; dendritic cells; glomerulonephritis; macrophages; tubular injury.