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J Immunol. 1998 Jul 15;161(2):957-62.

The IL-1 beta-converting enzyme (caspase-1) inhibits apoptosis of inflammatory neutrophils through activation of IL-1 beta.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Toronto Hospital, Ontario, Canada.

Erratum in

  • J Immunol 1999 Mar 1;162(5):3103. William R [corrected to Watson RW];Watson G [corrected to Watson RW].


IL-1 beta-converting enzyme (ICE), also known as caspase-1, subserves two dichotomous biologic roles. It processes newly synthesized pro-IL-1 beta to yield the active cytokine and, as the human homologue of the Caenorhabditis elegans gene product, ced-3, it also induces cellular apoptosis through the cleavage of key intracellular structural and regulatory proteins and through the catalytic activation of other caspase family members. We show here that two different proinflammatory stimuli, LPS and granulocyte-macrophage-CSF, up-regulate the expression of both ICE and IL-1 beta in human polymorphonuclear neutrophils, and that the ICE-dependent cleavage of pro-IL-1 beta results in delayed expression of the constitutive cell death program. The apoptotic delay can be blocked by inhibiting tyrosine kinases or NF-kappa B activation and by inhibiting protein synthesis. Since an antisense oligonucleotide for IL-1 beta, a blocking Ab to IL-1 beta, and preincubation with the IL-1R antagonist all prevent the delay in apoptosis, we conclude that IL-1 beta acts in an autocrine manner to inhibit granulocyte programmed cell death. We conclude that caspase-1 (ICE) subserves both pro- and antiapoptotic roles; the latter role is evident during inflammation as an inhibition of spontaneous neutrophil apoptosis through the processing of IL-1 beta. The ICE-dependent activation of IL-1 beta may represent a common autocrine pathway for the divergent stimuli that inhibit the constitutive expression of neutrophil programmed cell death during inflammation.

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