Genetic variations in the NALP3 inflammasome: a susceptibility factor for inflammatory diseases
Sammanfattning: Innate immunity has received impressive attention in the past decade owing to the discovery of the Toll like receptors (TLRs) and the NOD-like receptors (NLRs). While the TLRs specialize in fighting microbes at the cell surface, the NLRs complement by detecting and responding to intracellular microbes. Recently, the non-microbe sensing NLR called inflammasomes, have been identified, which senses metabolic stress as well as certain pathogenic microbes and elicits host’s inflammatory response. The NLR, NALP3 (formerly known as cryopyrin) forms a large cytoplasmic complex called the ‘inflammasome’ when NALP3, activated by a stimuli, associates with the adaptor proteins ASC and CARD-8. This interaction leads to the activation of pro-inflammatory caspase-1 which subsequently results in the formation of Interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18. Mutations in the gene encoding NALP3, termed NLRP3 can lead to its constitutive activation resulting in an uncontrolled production of IL-1β. These mutations have been implicated in hereditary inflammatory diseases, often grouped under cryopyrin associated periodic syndromes (CAPS).This thesis describes a patient with a long history of arthritis and antibiotic resistant fever, but without the typical symptoms of CAPS. The patient was found to be a heterozygous carrier of two common polymorphisms Q705K in NLRP3 and C10X in the CARD-8. Experimental studies showed elevated levels of caspase-1 and IL-1β in the patient, and a total clinical remission was achieved by IL-1β blockade. These two polymorphisms combined, were found to occur in approximately 4% of the control population, suggesting the possibility of a genetic predisposition for inflammation in these individuals. Therefore, a cohort of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, where elevated IL-1β could be one of the reasons behind chronic inflammation, was investigated. We found that carrying the combined polymorphisms resulted in increased RA susceptibility and a more severe disease course. Hypothetically, this subgroup of patients might benefit from IL-1β blockade. Additional studies are warranted to elucidate the functional effects of the two polymorphisms and to determine whether they identify a subgroup of patients that could benefit from IL-1 targeted therapy. Given the structural similarity of NALP3 to other NALPs, the possibility of involvement of the alternative, homologous genes cannot be eliminated.
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