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Nature. 1988 Aug 25;334(6184):698-700.

Interleukin-1 beta as a potent hyperalgesic agent antagonized by a tripeptide analogue.

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Faculty of Medicine, São Paulo, Brazil.


Interleukin-1 (IL-1) describes two inflammatory proteins, IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta, produced by activated macrophages and other cell types and encoded by two genes. Their amino acid sequences have only 26% similarity, but their biological activities are comparable, with a few exceptions; indeed, both molecules appear to act at the same receptor. As IL-1 release prostaglandins which sensitize nociceptors in man and in experimental animals, we tested IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta in rats for hyperalgesic (nociceptive) activity. Our results show that IL-1 beta given systemically is an extremely potent hyperalgesic agent with a probable peripheral site of action; IL-1 alpha is approximately 3,000 times less active than IL-1 beta. We have delineated the region of IL-1 beta mediating the hyperalgesic effect and developed an analgesic tripeptide analogue of IL-1 beta which antagonizes hyperalgesia evoked by IL-1 beta and by the inflammatory agent carrageenan.

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