PloS one

ATP release from dying autophagic cells and their phagocytosis are crucial for inflammasome activation in macrophages.

PMID 22768222


Pathogen-activated and damage-associated molecular patterns activate the inflammasome in macrophages. We report that mouse macrophages release IL-1β while co-incubated with pro-B (Ba/F3) cells dying, as a result of IL-3 withdrawal, by apoptosis with autophagy, but not when they are co-incubated with living, apoptotic, necrotic or necrostatin-1 treated cells. NALP3-deficient macrophages display reduced IL-1β secretion, which is also inhibited in macrophages deficient in caspase-1 or pre-treated with its inhibitor. This finding demonstrates that the inflammasome is activated during phagocytosis of dying autophagic cells. We show that activation of NALP3 depends on phagocytosis of dying cells, ATP release through pannexin-1 channels of dying autophagic cells, P(2)X(7) purinergic receptor activation, and on consequent potassium efflux. Dying autophagic Ba/F3 cells injected intraperitoneally in mice recruit neutrophils and thereby induce acute inflammation. These findings demonstrate that NALP3 performs key upstream functions in inflammasome activation in mouse macrophages engulfing dying autophagic cells, and that these functions lead to pro-inflammatory responses.