OBJECTIVE: Aberrant pyrin inflammasome activity triggers familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) pathogenesis, but the exact mechanism remains elusive and an obstacle to efficient treatment. We undertook this study to identify pyrin inflammasome-specific mechanisms to improve FMF treatment and diagnostics in the future.
METHODS: Pyrin-specific protein secretion was assessed by proteome analysis in U937-derived macrophages, and specific findings were confirmed in pyrin inflammasome-activated monocytes from healthy blood donors and patients with FMF, stratified according to MEFV genotype categories corresponding to a suspected increase in FMF disease severity.
RESULTS: Proteome data revealed a differential secretion pattern of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) from pyrin- and NLRP3-activated U937-derived macrophages, which was verified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Moreover, pyrin activation significantly reduced IL1RN messenger RNA expression (P < 0.001) and IL-1Ra secretion (P < 0.01) in healthy donor and FMF monocytes, respectively. Independent of MEFV genotype, unstimulated FMF monocytes from colchicine-treated patients secreted lower amounts of IL-1Ra compared to healthy donors (P < 0.05) and displayed decreased ratios of IL-1Ra:IL-1β (P < 0.05), suggesting a reduced antiinflammatory capacity.
CONCLUSION: Our data show an inherent lack of IL-1Ra expression specific to pyrin inflammasome activation, suggesting a new mechanism underlying FMF pathogenesis. The reduced IL-1Ra levels in FMF monocytes suggest a diminished antiinflammatory capacity that potentially leaves FMF patients sensitive to proinflammatory stimuli, regardless of receiving colchicine therapy. Thus, considering the potential clinical consequence of reduced monocyte IL-1Ra secretion in FMF patients, we suggest further investigation into IL-1Ra dynamics and its potential implications for FMF treatment in the future.