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Energy Provisioning and Inflammasome Activation: The Pivotal Role of AMPK in Sterile Inflammation and Associated Metabolic Disorders

[ Vol. 20 , Issue. 2 ]


Akhila H. Shrungeswara and Mazhuvancherry K. Unnikrishnan*   Pages 107 - 117 ( 11 )


Background: Body defenses and metabolic processes probably co-evolved in such a way that rapid, energy-intensive acute inflammatory repair is functionally integrated with energy allocation in a starvation/ infection / injury-prone primitive environment. Disruptive metabolic surplus, aggravated by sedentary lifestyle induces chronic under-activation of AMPK, the master regulator of intracellular energy homeostasis. Sudden increase in chronic, dysregulated ‘sterile’ inflammatory disorders probably results from a shift towards calorie rich, sanitized, cushioned, injury/ infection free environment, repositioning inflammatory repair pathways towards chronic, non-microbial, ‘sterile’, ‘low grade’, and ‘parainflammation’. AMPK, (at the helm of energy provisioning) supervises the metabolic regulation of inflammasome activation, a common denominator in lifestyle disorders.

Discussion: In this review, we discuss various pathways linking AMPK under-activation and inflammasome activation. AMPK under-activation, the possible norm in energy-rich sedentary lifestyle, could be the central agency that stimulates inflammasome activation by multiple pathways such as 1: decreasing autophagy, and accumulation of intracellular DAMPs, (particulate crystalline molecules, advanced glycation end-products, oxidized lipids, etc.) 2: stimulating a glycolytic shift (pro-inflammatory) in metabolism, 3: promoting NF-kB activation and decreasing Nrf2 activation, 4: increasing reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) and Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) stress.

Conclusion: The ‘inverse energy crisis’ associated with calorie-rich, sedentary lifestyle, advocates dietary and pharmacological interventions for treating chronic metabolic disorders by overcoming / reversing AMPK under-activation.


Inflammasome, AMPK, inflammation, metabolic disorders, inflammatory signals, sterile.


Department of Pharmacy Practice, Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka, Department of Pharmacology, National College of Pharmacy, Kerala University of Health Sciences, Kozhikode

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