Background and purpose: Inflammasomes are multimeric complexes that facilitate caspase-1-mediated processing of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-18. Clinical hypertension is associated with renal inflammation and elevated circulating levels of IL-1β and IL-18. Therefore, we investigated whether hypertension in mice is associated with increased expression and/or activation of the inflammasome in the kidney, and if inhibition of inflammasome activity reduces BP, markers of renal inflammation and fibrosis.
Experimental approach: Wild-type and inflammasome-deficient ASC(-/-) mice were uninephrectomized and received deoxycorticosterone acetate and saline to drink (1K/DOCA/salt). Control mice were uninephrectomized but received a placebo pellet and water. BP was measured by tail cuff; renal expression of inflammasome subunits and inflammatory markers was measured by real-time PCR and immunoblotting; macrophage and collagen accumulation was assessed by immunohistochemistry.
Key results: 1K/DOCA/salt-induced hypertension in mice was associated with increased renal mRNA expression of inflammasome subunits NLRP3, ASC and pro-caspase-1, and the cytokine, pro-IL-1β, as well as protein levels of active caspase-1 and mature IL-1β. Following treatment with 1K/DOCA/salt, ASC(-/-) mice displayed blunted pressor responses and were also protected from increases in renal expression of IL-6, IL-17A, CCL2, ICAM-1 and VCAM-1, and accumulation of macrophages and collagen. Finally, treatment with a novel inflammasome inhibitor, MCC950, reversed hypertension in 1K/DOCA/salt-treated mice.
Conclusions and implications: Renal inflammation, fibrosis and elevated BP induced by 1K/DOCA/salt treatment are dependent on inflammasome activity, highlighting the inflammasome/IL-1β pathway as a potential therapeutic target in hypertension.
© 2015 The British Pharmacological Society.