We aimed to investigate the effect of acute glucose shift on the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, IL-1β secretion, and underlying signaling pathways in THP-1 cells. THP-1 cells were divided into four groups and exposed to the following glucose concentrations for 24 h: constant normal glucose (NG, 5.5 mM), constant high glucose (HG, 25 mM), normal to high glucose shift (NG-to-HG, 5.5 to 25 mM), and high to normal glucose shift (HG-to-NG, 25 to 5.5 mM). Cell viability, oxidative stress, and the levels of NLRP3 inflammasome components were assessed. Both directions of the acute glucose shift increased the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and expression of phosphorylated p38 MAPK, JNK, and NF-κB compared with either constant NG or HG. Treatment with N-acetylcysteine, a pharmacological antioxidant, inhibited the acute glucose shift-induced generation of ROS, activation of NLRP3 inflammasome, and upregulation of MAPK-NF-κB. Further analysis using inhibitors of p38 MAPK, JNK, and NF-κB indicated that acute glucose shifts promoted IL-1β secretion by activating the signaling pathway in a ROS-MAPK-NF-κB-NLRP3 inflammasome in THP-1 cells. These findings suggested that acute changes in glucose concentration might cause monocyte inflammation, which is associated with diabetic complications.
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