Detection of viruses by inflammasomes

Curr Opin Virol. 2021 Feb;46:59-64. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2020.10.001. Epub 2020 Nov 8.


The innate immune system has evolved mechanisms to keep the viral infection under control and repair damaged tissues. Several pathways can identify the presence of pathogenic components, such as viral nucleic acids and viral proteins. Also, the innate immune system can detect cellular and tissue perturbations caused by infections. Inflammasomes are cellular pieces of machinery that can detect a pathogen's presence and its possible impact on cellular integrity. Thereby several inflammasomes, including the NLRP3 inflammasome and the AIM2 inflammasome, contribute to antiviral innate immunity. Inflammation driven by inflammasomes promotes immune defenses and initiate repair mechanisms. However, its overactivation may trigger acute inflammatory responses that may harm the host. This pathologic activation could contribute to the hyperinflammatory response observed in patients infected with viruses, including influenza, SARS, and possibly SARS-CoV2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genome, Viral
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Inflammasomes / immunology*
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Viroporin Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / virology
  • Viruses / genetics
  • Viruses / immunology*
  • Viruses / metabolism
  • Viruses / pathogenicity


  • Inflammasomes
  • Viral Proteins
  • Viroporin Proteins