Interleukin-1 signalling in disease

  • Michelle Edye

Student thesis: Unknown


The pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin 1 (IL-1) is involved in numerous physiological and pathological processes. It contributes to thermoregulation, sleep, feeding behaviour and notably to the exacerbation of non-communicable disorders such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and epilepsy, which are the greatest cause of mortality worldwide. Given this important role, IL-1 is tightly regulated, with regulation mechanisms present at the level of its synthesis, activation and receptor engagement. However, when studying IL-1 in vitro, little notice is taken of the disease microenvironment in which it acts. Acidosis is a hallmark of disease, often due to poor perfusion resulting in a shift to anaerobic respiration, a build-up of lactic acid and poor clearance of CO2. Additionally, highly active infiltrating immune cells favour anaerobic respiration and can contribute to this local acidosis. This thesis utilised primary cell cultures, cell lines and reporter cells to explore the mechanisms of IL-1 signalling under disease-relevant acidic conditions. Subsequently, a murine seizure model was developed to further explore IL-1 signalling in disease conditions in vivo.This work demonstrated that acidic pH itself did not induce IL-1β release, however, it did promote release of minimally active 20 kDa IL-1β in response to damage associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) such as ATP, monosodium urate crystals or calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystals. The cleavage of pro-IL-1β into 20 kDa IL-1β was mediated by cathepsin D and was also induced on addition of lactic acid to the culture media. This 20 kDa IL-1β was not further cleaved to the active mature 17 kDa IL-1β thus its production limits the spread of inflammation. The intranasal administration of kainic acid induces seizures in C57Bl/6J mice, however, IL-1β was not observed acutely in this model thus the presence of 20 kDa IL-1β in vivo was not confirmed.In recent years, the contribution of IL-1 to disease has become well established. However, despite successes in the development of novel therapeutics targeted at blocking IL-1 activity, such as anakinra, canakinumab or rilonacept to treat cryopyrin associated periodic syndromes, a number of studies have demonstrated poor efficacy and only minor improvements in patients when targeting IL-1. Thus further knowledge of the mechanisms of IL-1 signalling in disease is required to understand this system and develop improved novel therapeutics.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorStuart Allan (Supervisor) & David Brough (Supervisor)


  • Seizure
  • Inflammasome
  • Acidosis
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-1

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