Serelaxin inhibits the profibrotic TGF-β1/IL-1β axis by targeting TLR-4 and the NLRP3 inflammasome in cardiac myofibroblasts

Felipe Tapia Caceres, Tracey A. Gaspari, Chrishan S. Samuel, Anita A. Pinar

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The recombinant form of the peptide hormone relaxin, serelaxin (RLX), mediates its anti-fibrotic actions by impeding the profibrotic activity of cytokines including TGF-β1 and IL-1β. As IL-1β can be produced by the nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain, leucine-rich repeat and pyrin domains-containing protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome, this study determined whether RLX targeted the inflammasome to inhibit the profibrotic TGF-β1/IL-1β axis in primary human cardiac myofibroblasts (HCMFs) in vitro and in mice with isoproterenol (ISO)-induced cardiomyopathy in vivo. HCMFs stimulated with TGF-β1 (5 ng/ml), LPS (100 ng/ml), and ATP (5 mM) (T+L+A) for 8 h, to induce the NLRP3 inflammasome, demonstrated significantly increased protein expression of markers of NLRP3 priming (NLRP3, apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a C-terminal caspase-recruitment domain, procaspase-1) and activity (IL-1β, IL-18). After 72 h, there was significantly increased neuronal NOS (nNOS), TLR-4, procaspase-1, myofibroblast differentiation, and collagen-I deposition. These measures, along with interstitial TGF-β1 expression and collagen deposition, were also increased in the left ventricle (LV) of ISO-injured mice 14 d postinjury. RLX [16.8 nM (100 ng/ml) in vitro; 0.5 mg/kg per day in vivo] inhibited T+L+A- and ISO-induced TLR-4 expression, NLRP3 priming, IL-1β, IL-18, myofibroblast differentiation, and interstitial collagen deposition at the time points studied, via the promotion of nNOS; with the NLRP3- and IL-1β-inhibitory effects of RLX in HCMFs being abrogated by pharmacological blockade of nNOS or TLR-4. Comparatively, the small molecule NLRP3 inhibitor, N-{[(1,2,3,5,6,7-hexahydro-s-indacen-4-yl)amino]carbonyl}-4-(1-hydroxy-1-methylethyl)-2-furansulfonamide (1 μM in vitro, 10 mg/kg/d in vivo), inhibited components of the NLRP3 inflammasome in vitro and in vivo and ISO-induced interstitial LV fibrosis in vivo but did not affect nNOS, TLR-4, myofibroblast differentiation, or myofibroblast-induced collagen deposition. Hence, RLX can inhibit the TGF-β1/IL-1β axis via a nNOS-TLR-4-NLRP3 inflammasome-dependent mechanism on cardiac myofibroblasts.-Cáceres, F. T., Gaspari, T. A., Samuel, C. S., Pinar, A. A. Serelaxin inhibits the profibrotic TGF-β1/IL-1β axis by targeting TLR-4 and the NLRP3 inflammasome in cardiac myofibroblasts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14717-14733
Number of pages17
JournalThe FASEB Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • cardiac fibrosis
  • cardiomyopathy
  • IL-1 β serelaxin
  • nNOS
  • RXFP1

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