The role of the NLRP3 inflammasome in pulmonary diseases

Ther Adv Respir Dis. 2015 Aug;9(4):188-97. doi: 10.1177/1753465815586335. Epub 2015 May 26.


Respiratory diseases and lung injuries are one of the leading causes of death in the world. One critical component of these diseases is exaggerated inflammatory response. The recently discovered inflammasome is believed to play a key role in inflammation. The inflammasome is an oligomer of intracellular proteins that, once activated by an insult or damage signal, produces mature cytokines from the interleukin-1 family that mediate an inflammatory response. Previous research has provided evidence that suggests the role of the inflammasome in the pathogenesis of many chronic respiratory diseases and acute lung injuries, such as transfusion-related acute lung injury, ventilator-induced lung injury, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary fibrosis. This article summarizes recent research on the inflammasome and reviews proposed molecular models of the role of the inflammasome in several prominent lung diseases and injuries.

Keywords: NLRP3; acute lung injury; chronic respiratory disease; inflammasome; inflammation; interleukin 1; lung.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / immunology*
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammasomes / immunology*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Lung Diseases / immunology*
  • Lung Diseases / physiopathology
  • Models, Molecular
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammasomes
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • NLRP3 protein, human