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The Krebs cycle-derived metabolite itaconate is highly upregulated in inflammatory macrophages and exerts immunomodulatory effects through cysteine modifications on target proteins. The NLRP3 inflammasome, which cleaves IL-1β, IL-18, and gasdermin D, must be tightly regulated to avoid excessive inflammation. Here we provide evidence that itaconate modifies NLRP3 and inhibits inflammasome activation. Itaconate and its derivative, 4-octyl itaconate (4-OI), inhibited NLRP3 inflammasome activation, but not AIM2 or NLRC4. Conversely, NLRP3 activation was increased in itaconate-depleted Irg1-/- macrophages. 4-OI inhibited the interaction between NLRP3 and NEK7, a key step in the activation process, and "dicarboxypropylated" C548 on NLRP3. Furthermore, 4-OI inhibited NLRP3-dependent IL-1β release from PBMCs isolated from cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome (CAPS) patients, and reduced inflammation in an in vivo model of urate-induced peritonitis. Our results identify itaconate as an endogenous metabolic regulator of the NLRP3 inflammasome and describe a process that may be exploited therapeutically to alleviate inflammation in NLRP3-driven disorders.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell metabolism

Publication Date



School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.