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Review Article

Korean J Physiol Pharmacol 2018; 22(1): 1-15

Published online January 1, 2018 https://doi.org/10.4196/kjpp.2018.22.1.1

Copyright © The Korean Journal of Physiology & Pharmacology.

Role of inflammasomes in inflammatory autoimmune rheumatic diseases

Young-Su Yi*

Department of Pharmaceutical Engineering, Cheongju University, Cheongju 28503, Korea

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Inflammasomes are intracellular multiprotein complexes that coordinate anti-pathogenic host defense during inflammatory responses in myeloid cells, especially macrophages. Inflammasome activation leads to activation of caspase-1, resulting in the induction of pyroptosis and the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines including interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18. Although the inflammatory response is an innate host defense mechanism, chronic inflammation is the main cause of rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and Sjögren’s syndrome (SS). Since rheumatic diseases are inflammatory/autoimmune disorders, it is reasonable to hypothesize that inflammasomes activated during the inflammatory response play a pivotal role in development and progression of these diseases. Indeed, previous studies have provided important observations that inflammasomes are actively involved in the pathogenesis of inflammatory/autoimmune rheumatic diseases. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on several types of inflammasomes during macrophagemediated inflammatory responses and discuss recent research regarding the role of inflammasomes in the pathogenesis of inflammatory/autoimmune rheumatic diseases. This avenue of research could provide new insights for the development of promising therapeutics to treat inflammatory/autoimmune rheumatic diseases.

Keywords: Autoimmunity, Inflammasome, Inflammation, Macrophage, Rheumatic diseases