Epithelial Pyroptosis in Host Defense

Madeline J. Churchill, Patrick S. Mitchell, Isabella Rauch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Pyroptosis is a lytic form of cell death that is executed by a family of pore-forming proteins called gasdermins (GSDMs). GSDMs are activated upon proteolysis by host proteases including the proinflammatory caspases downstream of inflammasome activation. In myeloid cells, GSDM pore formation serves two primary functions in host defense: the selective release of processed cytokines to initiate inflammatory responses, and cell death, which eliminates a replicative niche of the pathogen. Barrier epithelia also undergo pyroptosis. However, unique mechanisms are required for the removal of pyroptotic epithelial cells to maintain epithelial barrier integrity. In the following review, we discuss the role of epithelial inflammasomes and pyroptosis in host defense against pathogens. We use the well-established role of inflammasomes in intestinal epithelia to highlight principles of epithelial pyroptosis in host defense of barrier tissues, and discuss how these principles might be shared or distinctive across other epithelial sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number167278
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 28 2022


  • epithelial cell
  • gasdermin
  • infection
  • inflammasome
  • pyroptosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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