Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase supports macrophage NLRP3 inflammasome activation during acute inflammation.


Activating the macrophage NLRP3 inflammasome can promote excessive inflammation with severe cell and tissue damage and organ dysfunction. Here, we show that pharmacological or genetic inhibition of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDHK) significantly attenuates NLRP3 inflammasome activation in murine and human macrophages and septic mice by lowering caspase-1 cleavage and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) secretion. Inhibiting PDHK reverses NLRP3 inflammasome-induced metabolic reprogramming, enhances autophagy, promotes mitochondrial fusion over fission, preserves crista ultrastructure, and attenuates mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. The suppressive effect of PDHK inhibition on the NLRP3 inflammasome is independent of its canonical role as a pyruvate dehydrogenase regulator. Our study suggests a non-canonical role of mitochondrial PDHK in promoting mitochondrial stress and supporting NLRP3 inflammasome activation during acute inflammation.





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Publication Info

Meyers, Allison K, Zhan Wang, Wenzheng Han, Qingxia Zhao, Manal Zabalawi, Likun Duan, Juan Liu, Qianyi Zhang, et al. (2023). Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase supports macrophage NLRP3 inflammasome activation during acute inflammation. Cell reports, 42(1). p. 111941. 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.111941 Retrieved from

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Research Associate, Senior

Hui-Kuan Lin

Fred and Janet Sanfilippo Distinguished Professor

The research interest in Dr. Lin lab is to understand oncogenic networks between oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, dissect the regulatory mechanisms underlying  the crosstalk between ageing and cancer, to unravel the role of posttranslational modifications (PTMs) such as ubiquitination  and metabolism in diverse molecular and biological processes important for cancer progression and metastasis, cancer stem regulation, cancer immunity and drug resistance by using biochemical and molecular approaches along with and genetic mouse models, and finally to develop small molecule inhibitors and antibodies targeting critical oncogenic signaling and metabolic vulnerabilities for cancer treatment. His research goals aim to not only reveal fundamental insights and concepts for cancer biology and cancer immunity, but also develop novel paradigms and therapeutic strategies for targeting human cancer and overcoming drug resistance.

Research interests include:

  • Crosstalk between oncogenic and tumor suppressor networks
  • Posttranslational modifications in signaling and cancer
  • Cancer progression and metastasis
  • Biology of normal and cancer stem cells
  • Metabolism in cancer and ageing

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