Inflammasomes in the urinary tract: a disease-based review.
Inflammasomes are supramolecular structures that sense molecular patterns from pathogenic organisms or damaged cells and trigger an innate immune response, most commonly through production of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-18, but also through less understood mechanisms independent of these cytokines. Great strides have been made in understanding these structures and their dysfunction in various inflammatory diseases, lending new insights into urological and renal problems. From a clinical perspective, benign urinary pathology almost universally involves the inflammatory process, and understanding how inflammasomes translate etiological conditions (diabetes, obstruction, stones, urinary tract infections, etc.) into acute and chronic inflammatory responses is critical to understanding these diseases at a molecular level. To date, inflammasome components have been found in the bladder, prostate, and kidney and have been shown to be activated in response to several infectious and noninfectious insults. In this review, we summarize what is known regarding inflammasomes in both the upper and lower urinary tract and describe several common disease states where they potentially play critical roles.
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