The inflammasome is a multi-protein complex that induces maturation of inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18 through activation of caspase-1. Several nucleotide binding oligomerization domain-like receptor family members, including NLRP3, recognize unique microbial and danger components and play a central role in inflammasome activation. The NLRP3 inflammasome is critical for maintenance of homeostasis against pathogenic infections. However, inflammasome activation acts as a double-edged sword for various bacterial infections. When the IL-1 family of cytokines is secreted excessively, they cause tissue damage and extensive inflammatory responses that are potentially hazardous for the host. Emerging evidence has shown that diverse bacterial pathogens or their components negatively regulate inflammasome activation to escape the immune response. In this review, we discuss the current knowledge of the roles and regulation of the NLRP3 inflammasome during bacterial infections. Activation and regulation of the NLRP3 inflammasome should be tightly controlled to prevent virulence and pathology during infections. Understanding the roles and regulatory mechanisms of the NLRP3 inflammasome is essential for developing potential treatment approaches against pathogenic infections.
Keywords: Bacteria; Host Defense; Infection; Inflammation; NLRP3 Protein, Human; Pathology.