Background & Aims: Microbial molecular products incite intestinal inflammation by activating Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and inflammasomes of the innate immune system. This system's contribution to esophageal inflammation is not known. Gram-negative bacteria, which dominate the esophageal microbiome in reflux esophagitis, produce lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a TLR4 ligand. TLR4 signaling produces pro-interleukin (IL)1β, pro-IL18, and NOD-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3), which prime the NLRP3 inflammasome. Subsequent NLRP3 inflammasome activation cleaves caspase-1, inducing secretion of proinflammatory cytokines and pyroptosis (inflammatory cell death). We explored LPS effects on NLRP3 inflammasome priming and activation in esophageal cells. Methods: We exposed esophageal squamous and Barrett's epithelial cells to LPS and measured the following: (1) TLR4, pro-IL1β, pro-IL18, and NLRP3 expression; (2) caspase-1 activity; (3) tumor necrosis factor-α, IL8, IL1β, and IL18 secretion; (4) lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release (a pyroptosis marker); and (5) mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS). As inhibitors, we used acetyl-Tyr-Val-Ala-Asp-CHO for caspase-1, small interfering RNA for NLRP3, and (2-(2,2,6,6,-Tetramethylpiperidin-1-oxyl-4-ylamino)-2-oxoethyl)triphenylphosphonium chloride for mitochondrial ROS. Results: Squamous and Barrett's cells expressed similar levels of TLR4, but LPS induced TLR4 signaling that increased tumor necrosis factor-α and IL8 secretion only in Barrett's cells. Barrett's cells treated with LPS showed increased expression of pro-IL18, pro-IL1β, and NLRP3, and increased mitochondrial ROS levels, caspase-1 activity, IL1β and IL18 secretion, and LDH release. Acetyl-Tyr-Val-Ala-Asp-CHO, NLRP3 small interfering RNA, and Mito-TEMPO all blocked LPS-induced IL1β and IL18 secretion and LDH release. Conclusions: In Barrett's cells, LPS both primes and activates the NLRP3 inflammasome, causing secretion of proinflammatory cytokines and pyroptosis. By triggering molecular events promoting inflammation, the esophageal microbiome might contribute to inflammation-mediated carcinogenesis in Barrett's esophagus.
- Esophageal squamous cell
ASJC Scopus subject areas