Inflammasomes in carcinogenesis and anticancer immune responses
In the complex interplay between malignant cells and their microenvironment, caspase-1 activation complexes (inflammasomes) have contrasting roles. Inflammasomes may operate at the cell-autonomous level to eliminate malignant precursors through programmed cell death or, conversely, may stimulate the production of trophic factors for cancer cells and their stroma. In inflammatory cells, caspase-1 activation can fuel a cycle that leads to sterile inflammation and carcinogenesis, whereas in antigen-presenting cells, inflammasomes can stimulate anticancer immune responses. The inhibition of inflammasomes or neutralization of their products, mainly interleukin 1β (IL-1β) and IL-18, has profound effects on carcinogenesis and tumor progression. Thus, inflammasomes are promising therapeutic targets in cancer-related clinical conditions. Here we discuss present and future indications for the clinical use of inflammasome inhibitors.