Background: Interleukin (IL)-1β is involved in the pathology of intervertebral disc degeneration. Under normal conditions, IL-1β is present in cells in an inactive form (pro-IL-1β). However, under pathological conditions, pro-IL-1β is turned into its active form (IL-1β) by the inflammasome, a multi-protein complex of the innate immune response that activates caspase-1. Under conditions of degeneration, the disc experiences an environment of increased acidification. However, the implications of acidification on the innate immune response remain poorly explored. Methods: Here we have studied how pH changes in human nucleus pulposus cells affect inflammasome activation by immunoblot analysis of protein lysates obtained from nucleus pulposus cells that were exposed to different pH levels in culture. Results: In this study, we have found that in nucleus pulposus cells, with increased acidification, there was a decrease in inflammasome activation consistent with lower levels of active IL-1β. However, this effect at a pH of 6.5, the lowest pH level tested, was abrogated when cells were treated with IL-1β. Conclusions: Taken together, these findings suggest that the inflammatory response through IL-1β experienced by the human disc is not initiated in nucleus pulposus cells when the stimulus is acidification.
- Innate Immunity
- Intervertebral disc degeneration
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Cell Biology