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J Clin Invest. 1995 Jul;96(1):38-41.

The inhibitory activity of human interleukin-1 receptor antagonist is enhanced by type II interleukin-1 soluble receptor and hindered by type I interleukin-1 soluble receptor.

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Hans Wilsdorf Laboratory, Department of Medicine, University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland.


Interleukin-1 (IL-1) is a major proinflammatory cytokine produced by monocytes/macrophages. At the inflammatory site, IL-1 is a potent inducer of the production of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and metalloproteinases on fibroblast-like cells, thus triggering tissue damage. The biological activity of IL-1 is counterbalanced by two types of inhibitors: the IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) which competitively binds IL-1 receptor without inducing signal transduction; and IL-1 soluble receptors (IL-1sR) which bind IL-1 and diminish the free concentration of soluble cytokine, thus hampering its binding to the cell surface receptor. Since IL-1sR can also bind IL-1Ra, we studied the simultaneous effects of both inhibitors on the production of interstitial collagenase (C'ase) and PGE2 by human dermal fibroblasts and synovial cells stimulated by either IL-1 alpha or IL-1 beta. IL-1Ra inhibited fibroblast and synovial cell stimulation by approximately 90%, with the exception of C'ase production by synovial cells which was inhibited by approximately 55%. Type I IL-1sR (IL-1sRI) preferentially inhibited IL-1 alpha, whereas type II IL-1sR (IL-1sRII) mainly inhibited IL-1 beta. When IL-1Ra was used simultaneously with IL-1sRI, the final inhibition was lower than that of either of the inhibitors. The simultaneous presence of IL-1Ra and IL-1sRII abolished the IL-1-induced production of PGE2 and C'ase on both dermal fibroblasts and synovial cells, demonstrating that concurrently these two inhibitors are able to abolish most of the inflammatory response. To our knowledge, this is the first example of two types of inhibitors that abolish each other's effects, one of which acts at the receptor level and the other at the ligand level, thus leaving ligand activity unimpaired.

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