IL-1β is a potent proinflammatory cytokine of the innate immune system that is involved in host defense against infection. However, increased production of IL-1β plays a pathogenic role in various inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, sepsis, stroke, and transplant rejection. To prevent detrimental collateral damage, IL-1β release is tightly controlled and typically requires two consecutive danger signals. LPS from Gram-negative bacteria is a prototypical first signal inducing pro-IL-1β synthesis, whereas extracellular ATP is a typical second signal sensed by the ATP receptor P2X7 that triggers activation of the NLRP3-containing inflammasome, proteolytic cleavage of pro-IL-1β by caspase-1, and release of mature IL-1β. Mechanisms controlling IL-1β release, even in the presence of both danger signals, are needed to protect from collateral damage and are of therapeutic interest. In this article, we show that acetylcholine, choline, phosphocholine, phosphocholine-modified LPS from Haemophilus influenzae, and phosphocholine-modified protein efficiently inhibit ATP-mediated IL-1β release in human and rat monocytes via nicotinic acetylcholine receptors containing subunits α7, α9, and/or α10. Of note, we identify receptors for phosphocholine-modified macromolecules that are synthesized by microbes and eukaryotic parasites and are well-known modulators of the immune system. Our data suggest that an endogenous anti-inflammatory cholinergic control mechanism effectively controls ATP-mediated release of IL-1β and that the same mechanism is used by symbionts and misused by parasites to evade innate immune responses of the host.
Copyright © 2015 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.