Activation of inflammasomes in podocyte injury of mice on the high fat diet: Effects of ASC gene deletion and silencing

Krishna M. Boini, Min Xia, Justin M. Abais, Guangbi Li, Ashley L. Pitzer, Todd W.B. Gehr, Yang Zhang, Pin Lan Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Inflammasome, an intracellular inflammatory machinery, has been reported to be involved in a variety of chronic degenerative diseases such as atherosclerosis, autoinflammatory diseases and Alzheimer's disease. The present study hypothesized that the formation and activation of inflammasomes associated with apoptosis associated speck-like protein (ASC) are an important initiating mechanism resulting in obesity-associated podocyte injury and consequent glomerular sclerosis. To test this hypothesis, Asc gene knockout (Asc-/-), wild type (Asc+/+) and intrarenal Asc shRNA-transfected wild type (Asc shRNA) mice were fed a high fat diet (HFD) or normal diet (ND) for 12weeks to produce obesity and associated glomerular injury. Western blot and RT-PCR analyses demonstrated that renal tissue Asc expression was lacking in Asc-/- mice or substantially reduced in Asc shRNA transfected mice compared to Asc+/+ mice. Confocal microscopic and co-immunoprecipitation analysis showed that the HFD enhanced the formation of inflammasome associated with Asc in podocytes as shown by colocalization of Asc with Nod-like receptor protein 3 (Nalp3). This inflammasome complex aggregation was not observed in Asc-/- and local Asc shRNA-transfected mice. The caspase-1 activity, IL-1β production and glomerular damage index (GDI) were also significantly attenuated in Asc-/- and Asc shRNA-transfected mice fed the HFD. This decreased GDI in Asc-/- and Asc shRNA transfected mice on the HFD was accompanied by attenuated proteinuria, albuminuria, foot process effacement of podocytes and loss of podocyte slit diaphragm molecules. In conclusion, activation and formation of inflammasomes in podocytes are importantly implicated in the development of obesity-associated glomerular injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)836-845
Number of pages10
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Asc
  • Glomerulosclerosis
  • Inflammasome
  • Nalp3
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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