NOD-like receptors (NLRs) and caspase-1 are critical components of innate immunity, yet their over-activation has been linked to a long list of microbial and inflammatory diseases, including anthrax. The Bacillus anthracis lethal toxin (LT) has been shown to activate the NLR Nalp1b and caspase-1 and to induce many symptoms of the anthrax disease in susceptible murine strains. In this study we tested whether it is possible to prevent LT-mediated disease by pharmacological inhibition of caspase-1. We found that caspase-1 and proteasome inhibitors blocked LT-mediated caspase-1 activation and cytolysis of LT-sensitive (Fischer and Brown-Norway) rat macrophages. The proteasome inhibitor NPI-0052 also prevented disease progression and death in susceptible Fischer rats and increased survival in BALB/c mice after LT challenge. In addition, NPI-0052 blocked rapid disease progression and death in susceptible Fischer rats and BALB/c mice challenged with LT. In contrast, Lewis rats, which harbor LT-resistant macrophages, showed no signs of caspase-1 activation after LT injection and did not exhibit rapid disease progression. Taken together, our findings indicate that caspase-1 activation is critical for rapid disease progression in rodents challenged with LT. Our studies indicate that pharmacological inhibition of NLR signaling and caspase-1 can be used to treat inflammatory diseases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine