The Role of the Inflammasome in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neurodegenerative diseases are chronic, progressive disorders that occur in the central nervous system (CNS). They are characterized by the loss of neuronal structure and function and are associated with inflammation. Inflammation of the CNS is called neuroinflammation, which has been implicated in most neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS). Much evidence indicates that these different conditions share a common inflammatory mechanism: the activation of the inflammasome complex in peripheral monocytes and in microglia, with the consequent production of high quantities of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-18. Inflammasomes are a group of multimeric signaling complexes that include a sensor Nod-like receptor (NLR) molecule, the adaptor protein ASC, and caspase-1. The NLRP3 inflammasome is currently the best-characterized inflammasome. Multiple signals, which are potentially provided in combination and include endogenous danger signals and pathogens, trigger the formation of an active inflammasome, which, in turn, will stimulate the cleavage and the release of bioactive cytokines including IL-1β and IL-18. In this review, we will summarize results implicating the inflammasome as a pivotal player in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases and discuss how compounds that hamper the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome could offer novel therapeutic avenues for these diseases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecules (Basel, Switzerland)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 11 2021


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • inflammasome
  • multiple sclerosis
  • neurodegenerative diseases
  • neuroinflammation
  • NLRP3 inflammasome
  • Parkinson’s diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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