Int J Biol Sci 2020; 16(16):3163-3173. doi:10.7150/ijbs.46153

Research Paper

Targeting BRD4 prevents acute gouty arthritis by regulating pyroptosis

Kun Hao1,#, Wenjiao Jiang1,#, Mengze Zhou1, Hanwen Li2, Yadong Chen3, Fei Jiang3, Qinghua Hu1,2,✉

1. State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, Key Laboratory of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing 210009, PR China
2. School of Pharmacy, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing 211198, PR China
3. School of Science, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing 211198, PR China
# These authors contributed equally to this study

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Hao K, Jiang W, Zhou M, Li H, Chen Y, Jiang F, Hu Q. Targeting BRD4 prevents acute gouty arthritis by regulating pyroptosis. Int J Biol Sci 2020; 16(16):3163-3173. doi:10.7150/ijbs.46153. Available from

File import instruction


Background: Acute gouty arthritis is a common inflammatory arthropathy resulting from urate deposition in joints during persistent hyperuricemia. Nevertheless, effective therapeutic strategies are still unavailable. Here, we propose the crucial role of bromodomain-containing protein 4 (BRD4) in acute gouty arthritis.

Methods: Therapeutic effect of BRD4 specific inhibitor JQ-1 on acute gouty arthritis was evaluated in vivo and in vitro. Pyroptosis was analyzed by Caspase-1/PI double staining and cleavage of gasdermin D (GSDMD). Expression of key factors involved in BRD4/NF-κB/NLRP3/GSDMD signaling pathway were measured by western blot, and colocalization of NLRP3 and ASC was detected using immunofluorescence. In addition, the role of BRD4 on monosodium uric acid crystals (MSU)-induced pyroptosis was verified in BRD4 siRNA-transfected THP-1 cells.

Results: Pretreatment of JQ1 and BRD4 siRNA significantly suppressed pyroptosis and inhibited activation of p65 NF-κB signaling as well as NLRP3 inflammasome in THP-1 cells exposed to MSU. In vivo, JQ-1 administration could effectively attenuate joint swelling and synovial inflammation in rats treated by intra-articular injection of MSU. More importantly, MSU led to macrophage pyroptosis and Brd4/NF-κB/NLRP3/GSDMD signaling induction in rat synoviums, which was improved by JQ-1.

Conclusions: Our study identifies the role of BRD4 in MSU-induced pyroptosis through regulating NF-κB/NLRP3/GSDMD signaling pathways, which provides a potential target for treatment of acute gouty arthritis.

Keywords: BRD4, Acute gouty arthritis, Pyroptosis, NLRP3 inflammasome