Two research teams based in Germany and Spain have discovered that ASC specks—protein aggregations that drive inflammation—are released from dying immune cells. The protein aggregations are a component of inflammasomes, which sense pathogens and cell damage and set off innate immune inflammation. Researchers previously thought inflammasomes acted only inside single cells, but according to the latest finding, the ASC specks can effect extracellular inflammation. The teams also found that macrophages can take up released ASC specks, perpetuating the immune response. Their findings help explain the mystery of how relatively localized contact between a cell and a pathogen or product of cell damage can lead to widespread inflammation.
Read in detail in Scientific American.