Targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome in inflammatory diseases

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2018 Aug;17(8):588-606. doi: 10.1038/nrd.2018.97. Epub 2018 Jul 20.


Danger signals are a hallmark of many common inflammatory diseases, and these stimuli can function to activate the cytosolic innate immune signalling receptor NLRP3 (NOD-, LRR- and pyrin domain-containing 3). Once activated, NLRP3 nucleates the assembly of an inflammasome, leading to caspase 1-mediated proteolytic activation of the interleukin-1β (IL-1β) family of cytokines, and induces an inflammatory, pyroptotic cell death. Pharmacological inhibition of NLRP3 activation results in potent therapeutic effects in a wide variety of rodent models of inflammatory diseases, effects that are mirrored by genetic ablation of NLRP3. Although these findings highlight the potential of NLRP3 as a drug target, an understanding of NLRP3 structure and activation mechanisms is incomplete, which has hampered the discovery and development of novel therapeutics against this target. Here, we review recent advances in our understanding of NLRP3 activation and regulation, highlight the evolving landscape of NLRP3 modulators and discuss opportunities for pharmacologically targeting NLRP3 with novel small molecules.

Publication types

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