Theranostics 2022; 12(9):4310-4329. doi:10.7150/thno.71086 This issue


Pyroptosis in inflammatory diseases and cancer

Zhiping Rao1,*, Yutong Zhu1,*, Peng Yang1, Zhuang Chen1, Yuqiong Xia1, Chaoqiang Qiao1, Weijing Liu1, Hongzhang Deng1, Jianxiong Li3✉, Pengbo Ning1,2✉, Zhongliang Wang1,2✉

1. Engineering Research Center of Molecular & Neuroimaging, Ministry of Education, School of Life Science and Technology, Xidian University, Xi'an, Shaanxi, 710126, P. R. China
2. Academy of Advanced Interdisciplinary Research, Xidian University, Xi'an, Shaanxi, 710071, P. R. China
3. Department of Radiotherapy, Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing, 100071, P. R. China.
* These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Rao Z, Zhu Y, Yang P, Chen Z, Xia Y, Qiao C, Liu W, Deng H, Li J, Ning P, Wang Z. Pyroptosis in inflammatory diseases and cancer. Theranostics 2022; 12(9):4310-4329. doi:10.7150/thno.71086. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Pyroptosis is a lytic and inflammatory type of programmed cell death that is usually triggered by inflammasomes and executed by gasdermin proteins. The main characteristics of pyroptosis are cell swelling, membrane perforation, and the release of cell contents. In normal physiology, pyroptosis plays a critical role in host defense against pathogen infection. However, excessive pyroptosis may cause immoderate and continuous inflammatory responses that involves in the occurrence of inflammatory diseases. Attractively, as immunogenic cell death, pyroptosis can serve as a new strategy for cancer elimination by inducing pyroptotic cell death and activating intensely antitumor immunity. To make good use of this double-edged sword, the molecular mechanisms, and therapeutic implications of pyroptosis in related diseases need to be fully elucidated. In this review, we first systematically summarize the signaling pathways of pyroptosis and then present the available evidences indicating the role of pyroptosis in inflammatory diseases and cancer. Based on this, we focus on the recent progress in strategies that inhibit pyroptosis for treatment of inflammatory diseases, and those that induce pyroptosis for cancer therapy. Overall, this should shed light on future directions and provide novel ideas for using pyroptosis as a powerful tool to fight inflammatory diseases and cancer.

Keywords: Pyroptosis, signaling pathway, gasdermin, inflammatory diseases, cancer