Inflammasome activation in traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer's disease

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) represent 2 of the largest sources of death and disability in the United States. Recent studies have identified TBI as a potential risk factor for AD development, and numerous reports have shown that TBI is linked with AD associated protein expression during the acute phase of injury, suggesting an interplay between the 2 pathologies. The inflammasome is a multi-protein complex that plays a role in both TBI and AD pathologies, and is characterized by inflammatory cytokine release and pyroptotic cell death. Products of inflammasome signaling pathways activate microglia and astrocytes, which attempt to resolve pathological inflammation caused by inflammatory cytokine release and phagocytosis of cellular debris. Although the initial phase of the inflammatory response in the nervous system is beneficial, recent evidence has emerged that the heightened inflammatory response after trauma is self-perpetuating and results in additional damage in the central nervous system. Inflammasome-induced cytokines and inflammasome signaling proteins released from activated microglia interact with AD associated proteins and exacerbate AD pathological progression and cellular damage. Additionally, multiple genetic mutations associated with AD development alter microglia inflammatory activity, increasing and perpetuating inflammatory cell damage. In this review, we discuss the pathologies of TBI and AD and how they are impacted by and potentially interact through inflammasome activity and signaling proteins. We discuss current clinical trials that target the inflammasome to reduce heightened inflammation associated with these disorders.




Johnson, N. H., de Rivero Vaccari, J. P., Bramlett, H. M., Keane, R. W., & Dietrich, W. D. (2023, April 1). Inflammasome activation in traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s disease. Translational Research. Elsevier Inc.

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