Activation of the absent in melanoma 2 inflammasome in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patients leads to the release of pro-fibrotic mediators

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Frontiers in Immunology, 2018, 9 (APR)
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© 2018 Terlizzi, Molino, Colarusso, Donovan, Imitazione, Somma, Aquino, Hansbro, Pinto and Sorrentino. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic fibro-proliferative disease characterized by poor prognosis, with a mean survival of ~2-3 years after definite diagnosis. The cause of IPF is still unknown but it is a heterogeneous condition in which the aberrant deposition of extracellular matrix leads to extensive lung remodeling. This remodeling is a consequence of inflammatory responses, but the mechanisms involved are poorly understood. In this study, we first analyzed a bleomycin-induced mouse model, which showed that higher expression of IL-1β, but not IL-18, was correlated to pulmonary cell infiltration and fibrosis. Then, we found that peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from IPF patients released IL-1α and IL-18 in a NLRP3- and calpain-independent manner after LPS ± ATP stimulation. Instead, the activation of the absent in melanoma 2 (AIM2) inflammasome induced the release of IL-1α in a caspase-1-/caspase-8-independent manner; whereas IL-18 release was caspase-1 dependent. These effects correlated with the release of the pro-fibrotic TGF-β, which was induced by AIM2 activation in a caspase-1- and TLR4-independent manner, but dependent on IL-1α. In this context, the activation of AIM2 induced the release of caspase-4 from IPF-derived PBMCs, which correlated with the mRNA levels of this caspase that was higher in IPF than in healthy PBMCs. In conclusion, our findings identify a novel molecular mechanism whereby the activation of AIM2 could lead to the activation of the non-canonical inflammasome (caspase-4 dependent) that induces the release of IL-1α responsible for the release of TGF-β from PBMCs of IPF patients.
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