Anti-inflammatory compounds parthenolide and Bay 11-7082 are direct inhibitors of the inflammasome.

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.
Journal of Biological Chemistry (Impact Factor: 4.6). 03/2010; 285(13):9792-802. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M109.082305
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Activation of the inflammasome generates the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1 beta and -18, which are important mediators of inflammation. Abnormal activation of the inflammasome leads to many inflammatory diseases, including gout, silicosis, neurodegeneration, and genetically inherited periodic fever syndromes. Therefore, identification of small molecule inhibitors that target the inflammasome is an important step toward developing effective therapeutics for the treatment of inflammation. Here, we show that the herbal NF-kappaB inhibitory compound parthenolide inhibits the activity of multiple inflammasomes in macrophages by directly inhibiting the protease activity of caspase-1. Additional investigations of other NF-kappaB inhibitors revealed that the synthetic I kappaB kinase-beta inhibitor Bay 11-7082 and structurally related vinyl sulfone compounds selectively inhibit NLRP3 inflammasome activity in macrophages independent of their inhibitory effect on NF-kappaB activity. In vitro assays of the effect of parthenolide and Bay 11-7082 on the ATPase activity of NLRP3 demonstrated that both compounds inhibit the ATPase activity of NLRP3, suggesting that the inhibitory effect of these compounds on inflammasome activity could be mediated in part through their effect on the ATPase activity of NLRP3. Our results thus elucidate the molecular mechanism for the therapeutic anti-inflammatory activity of parthenolide and identify vinyl sulfones as a new class of potential therapeutics that target the NLRP3 inflammasome.