Inflammasome signalling in brain function and neurodegenerative disease

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2018 Oct;19(10):610-621. doi: 10.1038/s41583-018-0055-7.


The mammalian CNS is an intricate and fragile structure, which on one hand is open to change in order to store information, but on the other hand is vulnerable to damage from injury, pathogen invasion or neurodegeneration. During senescence and neurodegeneration, activation of the innate immune system can occur. Inflammasomes are signalling complexes that regulate cells of the immune system, which in the brain mainly includes microglial cells. In microglia, the NLRP3 (NOD-, LRR- and pyrin domain-containing 3) inflammasome becomes activated when these cells sense proteins such as misfolded or aggregated amyloid-β, α-synuclein and prion protein or superoxide dismutase, ATP and members of the complement pathway. Several other inflammasomes have been described in microglia and the other cells of the brain, including astrocytes and neurons, where their activation and subsequent caspase 1 cleavage contribute to disease development and progression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain* / immunology
  • Brain* / metabolism
  • Brain* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Inflammasomes