Regulation of inflammasome activation

Immunol Rev. 2015 May;265(1):6-21. doi: 10.1111/imr.12296.


Inflammasome biology is one of the most exciting and rapidly growing areas in immunology. Over the past 10 years, inflammasomes have been recognized for their roles in the host defense against invading pathogens and in the development of cancer, auto-inflammatory, metabolic, and neurodegenerative diseases. Assembly of an inflammasome complex requires cytosolic sensing of pathogen-associated molecular patterns or danger-associated molecular patterns by a nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat receptor (NLR) or absent in melanoma 2 (AIM2)-like receptors (ALR). NLRs and ALRs engage caspase-1, in most cases requiring the adapter protein apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD (ASC), to catalyze proteolytic cleavage of pro-interleukin-1β (pro-IL-1β) and pro-IL-18 and drive pyroptosis. Recent studies indicate that caspase-8, caspase-11, IL-1R-associated kinases (IRAK), and receptor-interacting protein (RIP) kinases contribute to inflammasome functions. In addition, post-translational modifications, including ubiquitination, deubiquitination, phosphorylation, and degradation control almost every aspect of inflammasome activities. Genetic studies indicate that mutations in NLRP1, NLRP3, NLRC4, and AIM2 are linked with the development of auto-inflammatory diseases, enterocolitis, and cancer. Overall, these findings transform our understanding of the basic biology and clinical relevance of inflammasomes. In this review, we provide an overview of the latest development of inflammasome research and discuss how inflammasome activities govern health and disease.

Keywords: IL-1; NLR; caspase-1; caspase-11; caspase-8; inflammasome.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Inflammasomes / genetics
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism*
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / metabolism


  • Inflammasomes
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition
  • Caspases