Pharmacological inhibition of the NLRP3 inflammasome reduces blood pressure, renal damage, and dysfunction in salt-sensitive hypertension

Shalini M. Krishnan, Yeong H. Ling, Brooke M. Huuskes, Dorota M. Ferens, Narbada Saini, Christopher T. Chan, Henry Diep, Michelle M. Kett, Chrishan S. Samuel, Barbara K. Kemp-Harper, Avril A.B. Robertson, Matthew A. Cooper, Karlheinz Peter, Eicke Latz, Ashley S. Mansell, Christopher G. Sobey, Grant R. Drummond, Antony Vinh

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Aims Renal inflammation, leading to fibrosis and impaired function is a major contributor to the development of hypertension. The NLRP3 inflammasome mediates inflammation in several chronic diseases by processing the cytokines pro-interleukin (IL)-1β and pro-IL-18. In this study, we investigated whether MCC950, a recently-identified inhibitor of NLRP3 activity, reduces blood pressure (BP), renal inflammation, fibrosis and dysfunction in mice with established hypertension. Methods and results C57BL6/J mice were made hypertensive by uninephrectomy and treatment with deoxycorticosterone acetate (2.4 mg/day, s.c.) and 0.9% NaCl in the drinking water (1K/DOCA/salt). Normotensive controls were uninephrectomized and received normal drinking water. Ten days later, mice were treated with MCC950 (10 mg/kg/day, s.c.) or vehicle (saline, s.c.) for up to 25 days. BP was monitored by tail-cuff or radiotelemetry; renal function by biochemical analysis of 24-h urine collections; and kidney inflammation/pathology was assessed by real-time PCR for inflammatory gene expression, flow cytometry for leucocyte influx, and Picrosirius red histology for collagen. Over the 10 days post-surgery, 1K/DOCA/salt-treated mice became hypertensive, developed impaired renal function, and displayed elevated renal levels of inflammatory markers, collagen and immune cells. MCC950 treatment from day 10 attenuated 1K/DOCA/salt-induced increases in renal expression of inflammasome subunits (NLRP3, ASC, pro-caspase-1) and inflammatory/injury markers (pro-IL-18, pro-IL-1β, IL-17A, TNF-α, osteopontin, ICAM-1, VCAM-1, CCL2, vimentin), each by 25-40%. MCC950 reduced interstitial collagen and accumulation of certain leucocyte subsets in kidneys of 1K/DOCA/salt-treated mice, including CD206 + (M2-like) macrophages and interferon-gamma-producing T cells. Finally, MCC950 partially reversed 1K/DOCA/salt-induced elevations in BP, urine output, osmolality, [Na + ], and albuminuria (each by 20-25%). None of the above parameters were altered by MCC950 in normotensive mice. Conclusion MCC950 was effective at reducing BP and limiting renal inflammation, fibrosis and dysfunction in mice with established hypertension. This study provides proof-of-concept that pharmacological inhibition of the NLRP3 inflammasome is a viable anti-hypertensive strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)776-787
Number of pages12
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019


  • Hypertension
  • MCC950
  • NLRP3 inflammasome
  • Renal fibrosis
  • Renal inflammation

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