Inflammasomes in the urinary tract: a disease-based review.

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Inflammasomes are supramolecular structures that sense molecular patterns from pathogenic organisms or damaged cells and trigger an innate immune response, most commonly through production of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-18, but also through less understood mechanisms independent of these cytokines. Great strides have been made in understanding these structures and their dysfunction in various inflammatory diseases, lending new insights into urological and renal problems. From a clinical perspective, benign urinary pathology almost universally involves the inflammatory process, and understanding how inflammasomes translate etiological conditions (diabetes, obstruction, stones, urinary tract infections, etc.) into acute and chronic inflammatory responses is critical to understanding these diseases at a molecular level. To date, inflammasome components have been found in the bladder, prostate, and kidney and have been shown to be activated in response to several infectious and noninfectious insults. In this review, we summarize what is known regarding inflammasomes in both the upper and lower urinary tract and describe several common disease states where they potentially play critical roles.





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Purves, J Todd, and F Monty Hughes (2016). Inflammasomes in the urinary tract: a disease-based review. American journal of physiology. Renal physiology, 311(4). pp. F653–F662. 10.1152/ajprenal.00607.2015 Retrieved from

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J Todd Purves

Professor of Urology

Monty Hughes

Assistant Professor in Urology

 Dr. Hughes received his Ph.D. from the Medical University of South Carolina and was a post doc at both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and NIH. He then joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he rose to the rank of Associate Professor (with tenure). Following a brief stint as the director of the biology division of a start-up pharmaceutical company, he joined forces with Dr. Purves at the Medical University of South Carolina to begin this lab focused on benign urinary disorders. Dr. Hughes has been at Duke since 2015. He is currently an Assistant Professor working within the Department of Surgery and Division of Urology. He serves as the Director of the Urinary Dysfunction Laboratory which studies the role of inflammation in disorders such as bladder outlet obstruction and diabetic bladder dysfunction. In association with Dr. J Todd Purves, this lab has been instrumental in demonstrating the central importance of the NLRP3 inflammasome in sensing the biochemical stressors associated with these disorders and translating them into an inflammatory signal. This signal is ultimately responsible for changes in voiding function, denervation and fibrosis.

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