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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2013, Article ID 654963, 8 pages
Review Article

Inflammasome in Intestinal Inflammation and Cancer

1Biofunctionality Unit, ZIEL Research Center for Nutrition and Food Sciences, Technical University of Munich, 85354 Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany
2Serviço de Gastroenterologia & Laboratório Multidisciplinar de Pesquisa, Hospital Universitario, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 21941-913 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Received 22 January 2013; Accepted 7 March 2013

Academic Editor: Amado Salvador Peña

Copyright © 2013 Tiago Nunes and Heitor S. de Souza. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The activation of specific cytosolic pathogen recognition receptors, the nucleotide-binding-oligomerization-domain- (NOD-) like receptors (NLRs), leads to the assembly of the inflammasome, a multimeric complex platform that activates caspase-1. The caspase-1 pathway leads to the upregulation of important cytokines from the interleukin (IL)-1 family, IL-1β, and IL-18, with subsequent activation of the innate immune response. In this review, we discuss the molecular structure, the mechanisms behind the inflammasome activation, and its possible role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases and intestinal cancer. Here, we show that the available data points towards the importance of the inflammasome in the innate intestinal immune response, being the complex involved in the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis, correct intestinal barrier function and efficient elimination of invading pathogens.