The IL-18/IL-18R1 signalling axis: Diagnostic and therapeutic potential in hypertension and chronic kidney disease

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Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is inherently an inflammatory condition, which ultimately results in the development of end stage renal disease or cardiovascular events. Low-grade inflammatory diseases such as hypertension and diabetes are leading causes of CKD. Declines in renal function correlate with elevated circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines in patients with these conditions. The inflammasome is an important inflammatory signalling platform that has been associated with low-grade chronic inflammatory diseases. Notably, activation and assembly of the inflammasome causes the auto cleavage of pro-caspase-1 into its active form, which then processes the pro-inflammatory cytokines pro-interleukin (IL)-1β and pro-IL-18 into their active forms. Currently, the nod-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome has been implicated in the development of CKD in pre-clinical and clinical settings, and the ablation or inhibition of inflammasome components have been shown to be reno-protective in models of CKD. While clinical trials have demonstrated that neutralisation of IL-1β signalling by the drug anakinra lowers inflammation markers in haemodialysis patients, ongoing preclinical studies are showing that this ability to attenuate disease is limited in progressive models of kidney disease. These results suggest a potential predominant role for IL-18 in the development of CKD. This review will discuss the role of the inflammasome and its pro-inflammatory product IL-18 in the development of renal fibrosis and inflammation that contribute to the pathophysiology of CKD. Furthermore, we will examine the potential of the IL-18 signalling axis as an anti-inflammatory target in CKD and its usefulness as diagnostic biomarker to predict acute kidney injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108191
Number of pages13
JournalPharmacology & Therapeutics
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Hypertension
  • Inflammasome
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-18

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