The immune system and memory consolidation: a role for the cytokine IL-1beta

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2001 Jan;25(1):29-41. doi: 10.1016/s0149-7634(00)00048-8.


Interleukin-1 beta (IL-1beta), known to play a role in orchestrating the physiological and behavioral adjustments that occur during sickness, has also been shown to significantly influence memory consolidation. To support this assertion we present neurobiological evidence that the substrates for IL-1beta to influence memory processing and neural plasticity exist. We then present behavioral evidence that central IL-1beta administration and agents that induce central IL-1beta activity impair the consolidation of memories that depend on the hippocampal formation but have no effect on the consolidation of hippocampal-independent memories. Further, we demonstrate that the impairments in hippocampal-dependent memory consolidation produced by agents that induce IL-1beta activity are blocked by antagonizing the actions of IL-1beta. Finally, we discuss these data in terms of their implications for a physiological role of IL-1beta in memory consolidation processes and a potential role of IL-1beta in producing memory impairments associated with stress, aging, Alzheimer's disease, and AIDS related dementia complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / psychology
  • Interleukin-1 / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology*


  • Interleukin-1