The AIM2 inflammasome is an innate immune system component that defends against cytosolic bacteria and DNA viruses, but its aberrant activation can lead to the progression of various inflammatory diseases, including psoriasis. However, there have been few reports of specific inhibitors of AIM2 inflammasome activation. In this study, we aimed to investigate the inhibitory activity of ethanolic extracts of seeds of Cornus officinalis (CO), a herb and food plant used in traditional medicine, on AIM2-inflammasome activation. We found that CO inhibited the release of IL-1β induced by dsDNA in both BMDMs and HaCaT cells, but that it showed no effect on the release of IL-1β induced by NLRP3 inflammasome triggers, such as nigericin and silica, or the NLRC4 inflammasome trigger flagellin. Furthermore, we demonstrated that CO inhibited the cleavage of caspase-1, an inflammasome activation marker, and an upstream event, the translocation and speck formation of ASC. In addition, further experiments and mechanistic investigations revealed that CO can inhibit AIM2 speck formation induced by dsDNA in AIM2-overexpressing HEK293T cells. To verify the correlation in vivo, we investigated the efficacy of CO in an imiquimod (IMQ)-induced psoriasis model, which has reported associations with the AIM2 inflammasome. We found that topical application of CO alleviated psoriasis-like symptoms, such as erythema, scaling, and epidermal thickening, in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, CO also significantly decreased IMQ-induced expression of AIM2 inflammasome components, including AIM2, ASC, and caspase-1, and led to the elevation of serum IL-17A. In conclusion, our results suggest that CO may be a valuable candidate for the discovery of AIM2 inhibitors and the regulation of AIM2-related diseases.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the “Regional Innovation Strategy (RIS)” through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Education (MOE) (2021RIS-001).
© 2023 by the authors.
- AIM2 inflammasome
- Cornus officinalis
- IMQ-induced psoriasis-like skin inflammation