Inflammasomes and IL-1 biology in the pathogenesis of allograft dysfunction

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Inflammasomes are high-molecular-weight cytosolic complexes that mediate the activation of caspases. There are many inflammasomes, and each is influenced by a unique pattern-recognition receptor response. Two signals are typically involved in the inflammasome pathways. Signal one involves recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs), such as LPS or other colonizing/invading microbes, that interact with TLRs, which induce the downstream production of pro–IL-1β. This is followed by signal two, which involves recognition of PAMPs or damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), such as uric acid or ATP, via NLRP3, which leads to caspase-1–dependent cleavage of pro–IL-1β to active IL-1β and pyroptosis. Ultimately, these two signals cause the release of multiple proinflammatory cytokines. Both PAMPs and DAMPs can be liberated by early insults to the allograft, including ischemia/reperfusion injury, infections, and rejection. The consequence of inflammasome activation and IL-1 expression is the upregulation of adhesion molecules and chemokines, which leads to allograft neutrophil sequestration, mononuclear phagocyte recruitment, and T cell activation, all of which are key steps in the continuum from allograft insult to chronic allograft dysfunction.

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