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FASEB J. 1988 Feb;2(2):108-15.

Biology of interleukin 1.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts.


Interleukin 1 (IL 1) is a polypeptide that is produced after infection, injury, or antigenic challenge. Although the macrophage is a primary source of IL 1, epidermal, epithelial, lymphoid, and vascular tissues synthesize IL 1. When IL 1 gains access to the circulation, it acts like a hormone and induces a broad spectrum of systemic changes in neurological, metabolic, hematologic, and endocrinologic systems. Some of the IL 1 that is synthesized remains associated with the plasma membrane and induces changes in local tissues without producing systemic responses. IL 1 affects mesenchymal tissue remodeling where it contributes to both destructive and repair processes. IL 1 activates lymphocytes and plays an important role in the initiation of the immune response. Receptors for IL 1 have been identified, but receptors are scarce and their affinities often do not match the potency of the biological response. The most consistent property of IL 1 is up-regulation of cellular metabolism and increased expression of several genes coding for biologically active molecules. IL 1 is a highly inflammatory molecule and stimulates the production of arachidonic acid metabolites. IL 1 also acts synergistically with other cytokines, particularly tumor necrosis factor. The multitude of biological responses to IL 1 is an example of the rapid adaptive changes that take place to increase the host's defensive mechanisms.

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