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Int Immunol. 2006 Feb;18(2):399-407. Epub 2006 Jan 13.

Abnormal T cell activation caused by the imbalance of the IL-1/IL-1R antagonist system is responsible for the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

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Center for Experimental Medicine, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


IL-1 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that plays an important role in inflammation and host responses to infection. We have previously shown that imbalances in the IL-1 and IL-1R antagonist (IL-1Ra) system cause the development of inflammatory diseases. To explore the role of the IL-1/IL-1Ra system in autoimmune disease, we analyzed myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)-induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in mice bearing targeted disruptions of the IL-1alpha, IL-1beta, IL-1alpha and IL-1beta (IL-1) or IL-1Ra genes. IL-1alpha/beta double-deficient (IL-1-/-) mice exhibited significant resistance to EAE induction with a significant reduction in disease severity, while IL-1alpha-/- or IL-1beta-/- mice developed EAE in a manner similar to wild-type mice. IL-1Ra-/- mice also developed MOG-induced EAE normally with pertussis toxin (PTx) administration. In contrast to wild-type mice, however, these mice were highly susceptible to EAE induction in the absence of PTx administration. We found that both IFN-gamma and IL-17 production and proliferation were reduced in IL-1-/- T cells upon stimulation with MOG, while IFN-gamma, IL-17 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha production and proliferation were enhanced in IL-1Ra-/- T cells. These observations suggest that the IL-1/IL-1Ra system is crucial for auto-antigen-specific T cell induction and contributes to the development of EAE.

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