Understanding the mechanism of IL-1β secretion

Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2011 Aug;22(4):189-95. doi: 10.1016/j.cytogfr.2011.10.001. Epub 2011 Oct 22.


The cytokine interleukin-1β (IL-1β) is a key mediator of the inflammatory response. Essential for the host-response and resistance to pathogens, it also exacerbates damage during chronic disease and acute tissue injury. It is not surprising therefore that there is a huge level of interest in how this protein is produced and exported from cells. However, the mechanism of IL-1β release has proven to be elusive. It does not follow the conventional ER-Golgi route of secretion. A literature full of disparate observations arising from numerous experimental systems, has contributed to a complicated mix of diverse proposals. Here we summarise these observations and propose that secretion of IL-1β occurs on a continuum, dependent upon stimulus strength and the extracellular IL-1β requirement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Interleukin-1beta / immunology
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism*
  • Secretory Pathway / physiology*


  • IL1B protein, human
  • Interleukin-1beta