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Regulation and Function of the Caspase-1 in an Inflammatory Microenvironment


The inflammasome is a complex of proteins that has a critical role in mounting an inflammatory response in reply to a harmful stimulus that compromises the homeostatic state of the tissue. The NLRP3 inflammasome, which is found in a wound-like environment, is comprised of three components: the NLRP3, the adaptor protein ASC and caspase-1. Interestingly, although ASC levels do not fluctuate, caspase-1 levels are elevated in both physiological and pathological conditions. Despite the observation that merely raising caspase-1 levels is sufficient to induce inflammation, the crucial question regarding the mechanism governing its expression is unexplored. We found that, in an inflammatory microenvironment, caspase-1 is regulated by NF-κB. Consistent with this association, the inhibition of caspase-1 activity parallels the effects on wound healing caused by the abrogation of NF-κB activation. Surprisingly, not only does inhibition of the NF-κB/caspase-1 axis disrupt the inflammatory phase of the wound-healing program, but it also impairs the stimulation of cutaneous epithelial stem cells of the proliferative phase. These data provide a mechanistic basis for the complex interplay between different phases of the wound-healing response in which the downstream signaling activity of immune cells can kindle the amplification of local stem cells to advance tissue repair.

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