Authors:  dos Santos G, Rogel MR, Baker MA, Troken JR, Urich D, Morales-Nebreda L, Sennello JA, Kutuzov MA, Sitikov A, Davis JM, Lam AP, Cheresh P, Kamp D, Shumaker DK, Budinger GR, Ridge KM

Issue:  Nature Communication 2015 Mar 12;6:6574

PMID:  25762200


Activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome and subsequent maturation of IL-1β have been implicated in acute lung injury (ALI), resulting in inflammation and fibrosis. We investigated the role of vimentin, a type III intermediate filament, in this process using three well-characterized murine models of ALI known to require NLRP3 inflammasome activation. We demonstrate that central pathophysiologic events in ALI (inflammation, IL-1β levels, endothelial and alveolar epithelial barrier permeability, remodelling and fibrosis) are attenuated in the lungs of Vim(-/-) mice challenged with LPS, bleomycin and asbestos. Bone marrow chimeric mice lacking vimentin have reduced IL-1β levels and attenuated lung injury and fibrosis following bleomycin exposure. Furthermore, decreased active caspase-1 and IL-1β levels are observed in vitro in Vim(-/-) and vimentin-knockdown macrophages. Importantly, we show direct protein-protein interaction between NLRP3 and vimentin. This study provides insights into lung inflammation and fibrosis and suggests that vimentin may be a key regulator of the NLRP3 inflammasome.