The interleukin-1 signalling pathway in astrocytes: a key contributor to inflammation in the brain

J Anat. 2005 Sep;207(3):265-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2005.00445.x.


A dysregulated inflammatory response in the central nervous system (CNS) lies at the heart of many neuropathological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. A key component of these inflammatory conditions is the accumulation of leukocytes in the CNS. The infiltration of leukocytes into the brain is dependent on the induction of leukocyte adhesion molecules and chemoattractant chemokines. Recent studies have suggested the astrocyte to be a key cell in mediating the inflammatory process in the brain and in expressing adhesion molecules and chemokines. Here I overview work in my laboratory and others that demonstrates interleukin-1 (IL-1) to be a key inducer of the expression of these molecules in astrocytes. The temporal expression is sustained in nature and this is due to prolonged activation of the transcription factor NFkappaB. The molecular basis to the sustained activation of NFkappaB is also discussed. The IL-1 signalling pathway thus emerges as a valuable therapeutic target in the treatment of presently incurable neuropathological conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Astrocytes / immunology*
  • Brain / immunology*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte
  • Encephalitis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Interleukin-1 / genetics
  • Interleukin-1 / metabolism*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / immunology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / therapy
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Interleukin-1
  • NF-kappa B