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Plant Lectins Activate the NLRP3 Inflammasome To Promote Inflammatory Disorders


Plant-derived dietary lectins have been reported to be involved in the pathogenesis of several inflammatory diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and celiac disease, but little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying lectin-induced inflammation. In this study, we showed that plant lectins can induce caspase-1 activation and IL-1β secretion via the NLRP3 inflammasome. Lectins were internalized and subsequently escaped from the lysosome and then translocated to the endoplasmic reticulum. Endoplasmic reticulum-loaded plant lectins then triggered Ca2+ release and mitochondrial damage, and inhibition of Ca2+ release and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species by chemical inhibitors significantly suppressed NLRP3 inflammasome activation. In vivo, plant lectin-induced inflammation and tissue damage also depended on the NLRP3 inflammasome. Our findings indicate that plant lectins can act as an exogenous “danger signal” that can activate the NLRP3 inflammasome and suggest that dietary lectins might promote inflammatory diseases via the NLRP3 inflammasome.

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Carolyn Ledowsky

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