BackgroundLow molecular weight carrageenan (Cg) is a seaweed-derived sulfated polysaccharide widely used as inflammatory stimulus in preclinical studies. However, the molecular mechanisms of Cg-induced inflammation are not fully elucidated. The present study aimed to investigate the molecular basis involved in Cg-induced macrophages activation and cytokines production.MethodsPrimary culture of mouse peritoneal macrophages were stimulated with Kappa Cg. The supernatant and cell lysate were used for ELISA, western blotting, immunofluorescence. Cg-induced mouse colitis was also developed.ResultsHere we show that Cg activates peritoneal macrophages to produce pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF and IL-1β. While Cg-induced TNF production/secretion depends on TLR4/MyD88 signaling, the production of pro-IL-1β relies on TLR4/TRIF/SYK/reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling pathway. The maturation of pro-IL1β into IL-1β is dependent on canonical NLRP3 inflammasome activation via Pannexin-1/P2X7/K+ efflux signaling. In vivo, Cg-induced colitis was reduced in mice in the absence of NLRP3 inflammasome components.ConclusionsIn conclusion, we unravel a critical role of the NLRP3 inflammasome in Cg-induced pro-inflammatory cytokines production and colitis, which is an important discovery on the pro-inflammatory properties of this sulfated polysaccharide for pre-clinical studies.1e-L4pWBc1sacKrQDF6Cf5Video abstractGraphical AbstractCarrageenan (Cg) is one the most used flogistic stimulus in preclinical studies. Nevertheless, the molecular basis of Cg-induced inflammation is not totally elucidated. Herein, Lopes et al. unraveled the molecular basis for Cg-induced macrophages production of biological active IL-1β. The Cg-stimulated macrophages produces pro-IL-1β depends on TLR4/TRIF/Syk/ROS, whereas its processing into mature IL-1β is dependent on the canonical NLRP3 inflammasome.