Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2013, Article ID 678627, 9 pages
Review Article

The NLRP3 Inflammasome as a Novel Player of the Intercellular Crosstalk in Metabolic Disorders

1Department of Drug Science and Technology, University of Turin, Via P. Giuria 9, 10125 Torino, Italy
2Queen Mary University of London, The William Harvey Research Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London EC1M 6BQ, UK

Received 18 March 2013; Revised 13 May 2013; Accepted 22 May 2013

Academic Editor: Assaf Rudich

Copyright © 2013 Elisa Benetti et al. 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 combination of obesity and type 2 diabetes is a serious health problem, which is projected to afflict 300 million people worldwide by 2020. Both clinical and translational laboratory studies have demonstrated that chronic inflammation is associated with obesity and obesity-related conditions such as insulin resistance. However, the precise etiopathogenetic mechanisms linking obesity to diabetes remain to be elucidated, and the pathways that mediate this phenomenon are not fully characterized. One of the most recently identified signaling pathways, whose activation seems to affect many metabolic disorders, is the “inflammasome,” a multiprotein complex composed of NLRP3 (nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat protein 3), ASC (apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD), and procaspase-1. NLRP3 inflammasome activation leads to the processing and secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin- (IL-) 1β and IL-18. The goal of this paper is to review new insights on the effects of the NLRP3 inflammasome activation in the complex mechanisms of crosstalk between different organs, for a better understanding of the role of chronic inflammation in metabolic disease pathogenesis. We will provide here a perspective on the current research on NLRP3 inflammasome, which may represent an innovative therapeutic target to reverse the detrimental metabolic consequences of the metabolic inflammation.