The role of interleukin-1beta in febrile seizures

Brain Dev. 2009 May;31(5):388-93. doi: 10.1016/j.braindev.2008.11.013. Epub 2009 Feb 13.


Febrile seizures (FS) occur in children as a result of fever. Despite their prevalence, the pathophysiology of FS has remained unclear. Recent evidence from clinical and experimental studies has highlighted a potential role of immune generated products in the genesis of FS. Of particular interest are the pro-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and its naturally occurring antagonist, interleukin 1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra). Using a novel animal model of FS, involving the generation of physiological fever, we investigated the role of the IL-1beta/IL-1ra system in the genesis of FS. We found that animals with FS had increased hippocampal and hypothalamic IL-1beta compared to equally treated animals without FS, which was first evident at onset of FS in the hippocampus. There were no differences in IL-1ra levels. ICV IL-1beta increased the number of animals with FS while IL-1ra had an opposite anti-convulsant effect. The data from these studies, in combination with recent results from other laboratories, have established a putative role for the IL-1beta/IL-1ra system in the genesis of FS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / immunology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / immunology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / drug effects
  • Hypothalamus / immunology
  • Hypothalamus / physiopathology
  • Infant
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / pharmacology
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / physiology*
  • Interleukin-1beta / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-1beta / physiology*
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / drug effects
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / physiology
  • Rats
  • Seizures, Febrile / immunology*
  • Seizures, Febrile / metabolism
  • Seizures, Febrile / physiopathology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / immunology


  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Interleukin-1beta