Activation and regulation of cellular inflammasomes: gaps in our knowledge for central nervous system injury

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2014 Mar;34(3):369-75. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2013.227. Epub 2014 Jan 8.


The inflammasome is an intracellular multiprotein complex involved in the activation of caspase-1 and the processing of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and IL-18. The inflammasome in the central nervous system (CNS) is involved in the generation of an innate immune inflammatory response through IL-1 cytokine release and in cell death through the process of pyroptosis. In this review, we consider the different types of inflammasomes (NLRP1, NLRP2, NLRP3, and AIM2) that have been described in CNS cells, namely neurons, astrocytes, and microglia. Importantly, we focus on the role of the inflammasome after brain and spinal cord injury and cover the potential activators of the inflammasome after CNS injury such as adenosine triphosphate and DNA, and the therapeutic potential of targeting the inflammasome to improve outcomes after CNS trauma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / drug therapy
  • Brain Injuries / enzymology
  • Brain Injuries / immunology*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Caspase 1 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects
  • Inflammasomes / immunology*
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / drug therapy
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / enzymology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / immunology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / pathology


  • Inflammasomes
  • Caspase 1