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Volume 11, Pages 1536-1547
Review Article

The Multifaceted Role of the Inflammasome in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Medizinische Klinik I, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany

Received 6 July 2011; Accepted 21 July 2011

Academic Editor: Giamila Fantuzzi

Copyright © 2011 Donata Lissner and Britta Siegmund.


Inflammasomes are intracellular multiprotein complexes that coordinate the maturation of interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18 in response to pathogens and metabolic danger. Both cytokines have been linked to intestinal inflammation. However, recently evolving concepts ascribe a major role to the inflammasome in maintaining intestinal homeostasis. This review recapitulates its position in the development of inflammatory bowel disease, thereby outlining a model in which hypo- as well as hyperfunctionality can lead to an imbalance of the system, depending on the specific cell population affected. In the epithelium, the inflammasome is essential for regulation of permeability and epithelial regeneration through sensing of commensal microbes, while excessive inflammasome activation within the lamina propria contributes to severe intestinal inflammation.