Mechanosensation of cyclical force by PIEZO1 is essential for innate immunity

Nature. 2019 Sep;573(7772):69-74. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1485-8. Epub 2019 Aug 21.


Direct recognition of invading pathogens by innate immune cells is a critical driver of the inflammatory response. However, cells of the innate immune system can also sense their local microenvironment and respond to physiological fluctuations in temperature, pH, oxygen and nutrient availability, which are altered during inflammation. Although cells of the immune system experience force and pressure throughout their life cycle, little is known about how these mechanical processes regulate the immune response. Here we show that cyclical hydrostatic pressure, similar to that experienced by immune cells in the lung, initiates an inflammatory response via the mechanically activated ion channel PIEZO1. Mice lacking PIEZO1 in innate immune cells showed ablated pulmonary inflammation in the context of bacterial infection or fibrotic autoinflammation. Our results reveal an environmental sensory axis that stimulates innate immune cells to mount an inflammatory response, and demonstrate a physiological role for PIEZO1 and mechanosensation in immunity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endothelin-1 / metabolism
  • Female
  • Hydrostatic Pressure*
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Ion Channels / metabolism*
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Pseudomonas Infections / immunology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / immunology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Endothelin-1
  • Hif1a protein, mouse
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Ion Channels
  • Piezo1 protein, mouse
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases