Gefitinib initiates sterile inflammation by promoting IL-1β and HMGB1 release via two distinct mechanisms

Takuya Noguchi, Yuto Sekiguchi, Yuki Kudoh, Rio Naganuma, Tomohiro Kagi, Akiko Nishidate, Kazuhiro Maeda, Chizuru Ishii, Takashi Toyama, Yusuke Hirata, Gi Wook Hwang, Atsushi Matsuzawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Anticancer drug gefitinib causes inflammation-based side effects, such as interstitial pneumonitis. However, its mechanisms remain unknown. Here, we provide evidence that gefitinib elicits pro-inflammatory responses by promoting mature-interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) release. Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mtROS) driven by gefitinib stimulated the formation of the NLRP3 (NACHT, LRR and PYD-containing protein 3) inflammasome, leading to mature-IL-1β release. Notably, gefitinib also stimulated HMGB1 release, which is, however, not mediated by the NLRP3 inflammasome. On the other hand, gefitinib-driven mtROS promoted the accumulation of γH2AX, a hallmark of DNA damage, leading to the activation of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) and subsequent active release of HMGB1. Together our results reveal the potential ability of gefitinib to initiate sterile inflammation via two distinct mechanisms, and identified IL-1β and HMGB1 as key determinants of gefitinib-induced inflammation that may provide insights into gefitinib-induced interstitial pneumonitis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number49
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan


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