IL-18: a key player in neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration?

Trends Neurosci. 2005 Sep;28(9):487-93. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2005.06.008.


Interleukin (IL)-18 is a potent inflammatory cytokine of the IL-1 family. It is synthesized as an inactive precursor (pro-IL-18), which is cleaved into its functionally active form by caspase-1. Resident cells of the CNS express IL-18 and caspase-1 constitutively, thus providing a local IL-18-dependent immune response. Recent studies have highlighted a crucial role for IL-18 in mediating neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in the CNS under pathological conditions, such as bacterial and viral infection, autoimmune demyelinating disease, and hypoxic-ischemic, hyperoxic and traumatic brain injuries. This review provides a synopsis of the current knowledge of IL-18-dependent mechanisms of action during acute neurodegeneration in immature and adult brains.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-18 / metabolism*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Nerve Degeneration / metabolism*


  • Interleukin-18