Inflammasome in drug abuse

Enquan Xu, Jianuo Liu, Xiaobei Wang, Huangui Xiong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Drug abuse disorders refer to a set of related negative health implications associated with compulsive drug seeking and use. Because almost all addictive drugs act on the brain, many of them cause neurological impairments after long-term abuse. Neuropathological studies have revealed a widespread impairment of the cellular elements. As the key components to limit the damage of neural cells, CNS immune system is also found affected by these drugs, directly or indirectly. It has been shown that drugs of abuse alter neuroimmune gene expression and signaling. Growing studies on neuroimmune factors further demonstrate their indispensable role in drugs-induced neurotoxicity. As an important proinflammatory intracellular receptor, inflammasome is activated in many neurodegenerative diseases in response to a broad range of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) signals. In the cases of drug abuse, especially in those with comorbid of HIV infection and sustained pain, inflammasome activation significantly promotes the neuroinflammation-associated toxicities. To understand inflammasome in drug-associated neurotoxic activity, we reviewed the role played by inflammasome in drug abuse-induced microglial neurotoxicity and evaluated the potential of imflammasone as a therapeutic target for drug abuse disorders based on recent development of various selective small-molecular inflammasome inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberIJPPP0069071
Pages (from-to)165-177
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2017


  • Drug abuse
  • Microglia
  • NLRP3
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Proinflammatory cytokines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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