NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation Regulates Aged RBC Clearance

Li Qin, Zhao Fengyong, Zhang Jiamin, Yang Qixiu, Lu Geming, Xia Rongwei, Zhu Ziyan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The NLR family pyrin domain-containing protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome is triggered by various stimuli. Whether the NLRP3 inflammasome is activated during the monocyte clearing of aged or damaged erythrocytes is unknown. This work aimed to determine whether the NLRP3 inflammasome is activated during the THP-1 cell engulfing of aged erythrocytes. In the study, THP-1 cells were treated with PMA and then coincubated with untreated red blood cells (RBCs), 42 °C-treated RBCs, immunoglobulin G (IgG) anti-D-sensitized RBCs, Rhnull/Rhmod RBC sample, hemoglobin, and RBC ghost. The activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome and production of some proinflammatory cytokines were determined using immunoblotting, cytometric bead array, and digital PCR. An NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitor was also used to evaluate the alteration of the NLRP3 activation and RBC clearance rate. The untreated RBCs, 42 °C-incubated RBCs, IgG-opsonized RBCs, Rhnull/Rhmod RBCs, RBC ghosts, and hemoglobin induced the THP-1-cell-mediated activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome and the production of inflammatory cytokines. The RBC clearance rate exhibited a positive correlation with the expression of proinflammatory cytokines. The NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitor reduced the NLRP3 activation and RBC phagocytosis rate. The NLRP3 inflammasome was activated during the clearance of the aged erythrocytes through unopsonized and opsonized pathways. However, the mechanism of such phenomenon needs to be further elucidated. Such mechanism may provide new insight into the assessment of the safety of transfusing long-storage RBC based on cytokine levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1361-1371
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • NLRP3 inflammasome
  • THP-1
  • aged erythrocytes
  • cytokines


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