Squaramides enhance NLRP3 inflammasome activation by lowering intracellular potassium

Paula I Seoane, James A Beswick, Andrew G Leach, Tessa Swanton, Lucy V Morris, Kevin Couper, Martin Lowe, Sally Freeman, David Brough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The NLRP3 inflammasome is a component of the inflammatory response to infection and injury, orchestrating the maturation and release of the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-18, and triggering pyroptotic cell death. Appropriate levels of NLRP3 activation are needed to avoid excessive tissue damage while ensuring host protection. Here we report a role for symmetrical diarylsquaramides as selective K+ efflux-dependent NLRP3 inflammasome enhancers. Treatment of macrophages with squaramides potentiated IL-1β secretion and ASC speck formation in response to K+ efflux-dependent NLRP3 inflammasome activators without affecting priming, endosome cargo trafficking, or activation of other inflammasomes. The squaramides lowered intracellular K+ concentration which enabled cells to respond to a below-threshold dose of the inflammasome activator nigericin. Taken together these data further highlight the role of ion flux in inflammasome activation and squaramides as an interesting platform for therapeutic development in conditions where enhanced NLRP3 activity could be beneficial.

Original languageEnglish
Article number469
JournalCell death discovery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2023


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