The inhibition of mevalonate pathway induces upregulation of NALP3 expression: New insight in the pathogenesis of mevalonate kinase deficiency

Alessandra Pontillo, Elisa Paoluzzi, Sergio Crovella

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Mevalonate kinase deficiency (MKD) is a rare hereditary auto-inflammatory syndrome due to mutations in mevalonate kinase, the second enzyme of mevalonate pathway of cholesterol, and nonsterol-isoprenoids biosynthesis. The shortage of mevalonate-derived intermediates, and in particular of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP), has been linked with the activation of caspase-1 and thereby with the production of IL-1Β, but the true concatenation of these two events has not been clarified yet. We hypothesized that inflammasomes could mediate the activation of caspase-1 due to the shortage of GGPP. We monitored the expression of the principal proteins (NALP1, NALP3 and IPAF) of the three known inflammasomes, first in a cellular model of MKD and then in two MKD patients, after bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation. In healthy subjects, alendronate alone induced the expression of NALP1 and NALP3, and then together with LPS it induced a dramatic increase in NALP3 expression. In MKD patients, NALP3 expression was higher than in untreated healthy controls. Our results, although preliminary, showed that the inhibition of the mevalonate pathway led to a hyper-expression of NALP3, suggesting a possible involvement of NALP3-inflammasome in the activation of caspase-1 consequent to GGPP decrement. This is the first time that the involvement of the inflammasome complexes was shown in MKD pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)844-847
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010



  • Caspase-1
  • Inflammasome
  • Mevalonate kinase deficiency
  • NALP3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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