Signal transduction analysis of the NLRP3-inflammasome pathway after cellular damage and its paracrine regulation

Passante, Egle, Denise, Veltman, Huber, Heinrich and Thessa, Laeremans (2017) Signal transduction analysis of the NLRP3-inflammasome pathway after cellular damage and its paracrine regulation. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 415 . pp. 125-136. ISSN 0022-5193

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Activation of the NLRP3-inflammasome pathway and production of the inflammatory cytokine IL-1B after cellular damage caused by infarct or infection is a key process in several diseases such as acute myocardial infarction and inflammatory bowel disease. However, while the molecular triggers of the NLRP3-pathway after cellular damage are well known, the mechanisms that sustain or confine its activity are currently under investigation. We present here an Ordinary Differential Equation-based model that investigates the mechanisms of inflammasome activation and regulation in monocytes to predict IL-1β activation kinetics upon a two-step activation by Damage-Associate-Molecular-Particles (DAMP) and extracellular ATP. Assuming both activation signals to be concomitantly present or present with a delay of 12 h, the model predicted a transient IL-1β activation at different concentration levels dependent on signal synchronisation. Introducing a positive feedback loop mediated by active IL-1β resulted in a sustained IL-1β activation, hence arguing for a paracrine signalling between inflammatory cells to guarantee a temporally stable inflammatory response. We then investigate mechanisms that control termination of inflammation using two recently identified molecular intervention points in the inflammasome pathway. We found that a more upstream regulation, by attenuating production of the IL-1β-proform, was more potent in attenuating active IL-1β production than direct inhibition of the NLRP3-inflammasome. Interestingly, ablating this upstream negative feedback led to a high variability of IL-1β production in monocytes from different subjects, consistent with a recent pre-clinical study. We finally discuss the relevance and implications of our findings in disease models of acute myocardial infarction and spontaneous colitis.

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