Interleukin (IL) 1β, IL-1 receptor antagonist, IL-10, and IL-13 gene expression in the central nervous system and anterior pituitary during systemic inflammation: Pathophysiological implications

Ma Li Wong, Peter B. Bongiorno, Valeria Rettrori, Samuel M. Mccann, Julio Licinio

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The pathophysiology of systemic inflammation and sepsis involves peripheral organs, causing gastrointestinal, renal, and cardiovascular alterations, as well as the central nervous system (CNS), affecting sleep, temperature regulation, behavior, and neuroendocrine function. The molecular basis of the CNS effects of systemic inflammation are not fully elucidated. Here we show that the CNS responds to systemic inflammation with pronounced IL-1β gene expression and limited IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), IL-10, and IL-13 gene expression. This pattern occurs throughout the CNS, including areas such as the subfornical organ, pineal gland, neurohypophysis, and hypothalamus. In contrast, in the anterior pituitary, we found limited IL- 1β gene expression but marked induction of the mRNA encoding for the secreted isoform of IL-1ra, secreted IL-1ra. We conclude that the central manifestations of peripheral inflammation are mediated by endogenous brain IL-1β synthesized during systemic inflammation in the context of limited central cytokine counter regulation of IL-1. As IL-1β is a potent stimulus for inducible nitric oxide synthase expression and activity, these findings explain our previous observation that systemic inflammation promotes inducible nitric oxide synthase gene expression in the brain and the spillover of NO metabolites into cerebrospinal fluid. The CNS transcription of the HIV-1 replication factor IL-1β in the context of limited transcription of the IL-1 replication inhibitors IL-1ra, IL-10, and IL-13 might help explain the negative impact of systemic inflammation on the clinical course of AIDS. In addition, we propose that IL-1ra may be secreted by the anterior pituitary as a systemic anti-inflammatory hormone that is released in response to IL-1β originated from multiple sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-232
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 1997


  • HIV-1
  • NO
  • behavior
  • hormone
  • lipopolysaccharide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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