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Ann Rheum Dis. 2012 May;71(5):753-60. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2011-200556. Epub 2012 Jan 20.

Impact of IL-1 signalling on experimental uveitis and arthritis.

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  • 1Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR 97239, USA.



Uveitis, or inflammatory eye disease, is a common extra-articular manifestation of many systemic autoinflammatory diseases involving the joints. Anakinra (recombinant interleukin (IL)-1 receptor antagonist (Ra)) is an effective therapy in several arthritic diseases; yet, few studies have investigated the extent to which IL-1 signalling or IL-1Ra influences the onset and/or severity of uveitis.


To seek possible links between arthritis and uveitis pathogenesis related to IL-1 signalling.


The eyes of IL-1Ra-deficient BALB/c mice were monitored histologically and by intravital videomicroscopy to determine if uveitis developed along with the expected spontaneous arthritis in ankles and knees. Expression levels of IL-1R and its negative regulators (IL-1Ra, IL-1RII, IL-1RAcP and single Ig IL-1R-related molecule) in eye and joint tissues were compared. Differences in uveitis induced by intraocular injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in mice lacking IL-1R or IL-1Ra were assessed.


Deficiency in IL-1Ra predisposes to spontaneous arthritis, which is exacerbated by previous systemic LPS exposure. The eye, however, does not develop inflammatory disease despite the progressive arthritis or LPS exposure. Organ-specific expression patterns for IL-1Ra and negative regulators of IL-1 activity were observed that appear to predict predisposition to inflammation in each location in IL-1Ra knockout mice. The eye is extremely sensitive to locally administered LPS, and IL-1Ra deficiency markedly exacerbates the resulting uveitis.


This study demonstrates that IL-1Ra plays an important role in suppressing local responses in eyes injected with LPS and that there is discordance between murine eyes and joints in the extent to which IL-1Ra protects against spontaneous inflammation.

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