Nuclear factor E2-related factor-2 (Nrf2) is required for NLRP3 and AIM2 inflammasome activation

Changcheng Zhao, Devyn D. Gillette, Xinghui Li, Zhibin Zhang, Haitao Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Despite the number of extensive studies on the immune function and signaling of inflammasomes in various diseases, the activating mechanism of inflammasome, especially the NLRP3 inflammasome, is not fully understood. Nuclear factor E2-related Factor-2 (Nrf2), a key transcription factor that regulates cellular redox homeostasis, has been reported to play both protective and pathogenic roles depending on the disease conditions through undefined mechanism. This study reveals an essential role of Nrf2 in inflammasome activation. LPS stimulation increased Nrf2 protein levels in a Myd88-dependent manner. When compared with wild-type controls, Nrf2-deficient (Nrf2 -/-) macrophages showed decreased maturation and secretion of caspase-1 and IL-1β and reduced apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing CARD (ASC) speck formation in response to various NLRP3 and AIM2 inflammasome stimuli. In contrast, NLRC4 inflammasome activation was not controlled by Nrf2. Biochemical analysis revealed that Nrf2 appeared in the ASC-enriched cytosolic compartment after NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Furthermore, mitochondrial reactive oxygen species-induced NLRP3 activation also required Nrf2. Nrf2-/- mice showed a dramatic decrease in immune cell recruitment and IL-1β generation in alum-induced peritonitis, which is a typical IL-1 signaling-dependent inflammation animal model. This work discovered a critical proinflammatory effect of Nrf2 by mediating inflammasome activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17020-17029
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 13 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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