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NLRP3 inflammasome activation results in hepatocyte pyroptosis, liver inflammation and fibrosis

NLRP3 inflammasome activation results in hepatocyte pyroptosis, liver inflammation and fibrosis


Inflammasome activation has been recently recognized to play a central role in the development of drug-induced and obesity-associated liver disease. However, the sources and mechanisms of inflammasome mediated liver damage remain poorly understood. Our aim was to investigate the effect of NLRP3 inflammasome activation on the liver using novel mouse models. We generated global and myeloid cell specific conditional mutant Nlrp3 knock-in mice expressing the D301N Nlrp3 mutation (ortholog of D303N in human NLRP3) resulting in a constitutively activated NLRP3. To study the presence and significance of NLRP3 initiated pyroptotic cell death, we separated hepatocytes from non-parenchymal cells and developed a novel flow cytometry-based (FACS)strategy to detect and quantify pyroptosis in vivo based on detection of active caspase1 and propidium iodide (PI) positive cells. Liver inflammation was quantified histologically, by FACS and via gene expression analysis. Liver fibrosis was assessed by Sirius-Red-staining and qPCR for markers of hepatic stellate cell-(HSC)-activation. NLRP3 activation resulted in shortened survival, poor growth, and severe liver inflammation; characterized by neutrophilic infiltration and HSC-activation with collagen deposition in the liver. These changes were partially attenuated by treatment with anakinra, an interleukin-1 receptor antagonist. Notably, hepatocytes from global Nlrp3 mutant mice showed marked hepatocyte pyroptotic cell death with more than a fivefold increase in active caspase1-PI double positive cells. Myeloid cell restricted mutant NLRP3 activation resulted in a less severe liver phenotype in the absence of detectable pyroptotic hepatocyte cell death. Our data demonstrates that global and to a lesser extent myeloid-specific NLRP3 inflammasome activation results in severe liver inflammation and fibrosis, while identifying hepatocyte pyroptotic cell death as a novel mechanism of NLRP3 mediated liver damage.

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Accession: 036955458

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DOI: 10.1002/hep.26592

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