Differential activity of interleukin 1 alpha and interleukin 1 beta in the stimulation of the immune response in vivo

Eur J Immunol. 1990 Feb;20(2):317-21. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830200213.


The biological activities of human recombinant interleukin (IL) 1 alpha and IL 1 beta were compared in different biological systems. The two IL 1 forms were equally active in vitro in inducing proliferation of murine thymocytes and of the murine T helper clone D10.G4.1, and in triggering release of prostaglandin E2 from human skin fibroblasts. In vivo, IL 1 alpha and IL 1 beta were similarly pyrogenic both in rabbits and mice, and could equally increase the circulating levels of the acute phase protein serum amyloid A in mice. However, only IL 1 beta showed immunostimulatory activity in vivo, as it could enhance the number of specific antibody-producing cells in the spleen of mice immunized with either a T-dependent or a T-independent antigen. Although devoid of immunostimulatory activity, IL 1 alpha could efficiently compete immunostimulation induced by IL 1 beta, suggesting an effective interaction with the IL 1 receptor. Thus, IL 1 beta appears to have an important role in the positive regulation of immune responses, while IL 1 alpha may act as down-regulator of the IL 1 beta effect.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / drug effects*
  • Dinoprostone / biosynthesis
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Interleukin-1 / pharmacology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Pyrogens
  • Rabbits
  • Recombinant Proteins


  • Interleukin-1
  • Pyrogens
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Dinoprostone