The respiratory tract of human subjects is constantly exposed to harmful microbes and air pollutants. The immune system responds to these offenders to protect the host, but an unbalanced inflammatory response itself may promote tissue damage and ultimately lead to acute and chronic respiratory diseases. Deregulated inflammasome activation is emerging as a key modulator of respiratory infections and pathologic airway inflammation in patients with asthma, COPD, and pulmonary fibrosis. Assembly of these intracellular danger sensors in cells of the respiratory mucosa and alveolar compartment triggers a proinflammatory cell death mode termed pyroptosis and leads to secretion of bioactive IL-1 beta and IL-18. Here, we summarize and review the inflammasome and its downstream effectors as therapeutic targets for the treatment of respiratory diseases.
- EMC MM-04-42-02