Cortical cell death induced by IL-1 is mediated via actions in the hypothalamus of the rat

Stuart M. Allan, Lisa C. Parker, Barry Collins, Ralph Davies, Giamal N. Luheshi, Nancy J. Rothwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cytokine IL-1 mediates diverse forms of neurodegeneration, but its mechanism of action is unknown. We have demonstrated previously that exogenous and endogenous IL-1 acts specifically in the rat striatum to dramatically enhance ischemic and excitotoxic brain damage and cause extensive cortical injury. Here we tested the hypothesis that this distant effect of IL-1 is mediated through polysynaptic striatal outputs to the cortex via the hypothalamus. We show that IL-1β injected into the rat striatum with the excitotoxin α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4- isoxazolepropionate (S-AMPA) caused increased expression of IL-1β (mRNA and protein) mainly in the cortex where maximum injury occurs. Marked increases in IL-1β mRNA and protein were also observed in the hypothalamus. S-AMPA, injected alone into the striatum, caused only localized damage, but administration of IL-1β into either the striatum or the lateral hypothalamus immediately after striatal S-AMPA resulted in widespread cell loss throughout the ipsilateral cortex. Finally we showed that the cortical cell death produced by striatal coinjection of S-AMPA and IL-1β was significantly reduced by administration of the IL-1 receptor antagonist into the lateral hypothalamus. These data suggest that IL-1β can act in the hypothalamus to modify cell viability in the cortex. We conclude that IL-1-dependent pathways project from the striatum to the cortex via the hypothalamus and lead to cortical injury, and that these may contribute to a number of human neurological conditions including stroke and head trauma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5580-5585
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2000


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