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Mol Neurobiol. 1995 Feb;10(1):47-71.

Role of interleukin-1 in stress responses. A putative neurotransmitter.

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  • 1Department of Neuropsychiatry, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.


Recently, the central roles of interleukin-1 (IL-1) in physical stress responses have been attracting attention. Stress responses have been characterized as central neurohormonal changes, as well as behavioral and physiological changes. Administration of IL-1 has been shown to induce effects comparable to stress-induced changes. IL-1 acts on the brain, especially the hypothalamus, to enhance release of monoamines, such as norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, as well as secretion of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). IL-1-induced activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in vivo depends on secretion of CRH, an intact pituitary, and the ventral noradrenergic bundle that innervates the CRH-containing neurons in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. Recent studies have shown that IL-1 is present within neurons in the brain, suggesting that IL-1 functions in neuronal transmission. We showed that IL-1 in the brain is involved in the stress response, and that stress-induced activation of monoamine release and the HPA axis were inhibited by IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) administration directly into the rat hypothalamus. IL-1Ra has been known to exert a blocking effect on IL-1 by competitively inhibiting the binding of IL-1 to IL-1 receptors. In the latter part of this review, we will attempt to describe the relationship between central nervous system diseases, including psychological disorders, and the functions of IL-1 as a putative neurotransmitter.

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