The effect of intravenous interleukin-1 receptor antagonist on inflammatory mediators in cerebrospinal fluid after subarachnoid haemorrhage: a phase II randomised controlled trial

J Neuroinflammation. 2014 Jan 3;11:1. doi: 10.1186/1742-2094-11-1.


Background: Interleukin-1 (IL-1) is a key mediator of ischaemic brain injury induced by stroke and subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH). IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) limits brain injury in experimental stroke and reduces plasma inflammatory mediators associated with poor outcome in ischaemic stroke patients. Intravenous (IV) IL-1Ra crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in patients with SAH, to achieve cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations that are neuroprotective in rats.

Methods: A small phase II, double-blind, randomised controlled study was carried out across two UK neurosurgical centres with the aim of recruiting 32 patients. Adult patients with aneurysmal SAH, requiring external ventricular drainage (EVD) within 72 hours of ictus, were eligible. Patients were randomised to receive IL-1Ra (500 mg bolus, then a 10 mg/kg/hr infusion for 24 hours) or placebo. Serial samples of CSF and plasma were taken and analysed for inflammatory mediators, with change in CSF IL-6 between 6 and 24 hours as the primary outcome measure.

Results: Six patients received IL-1Ra and seven received placebo. Concentrations of IL-6 in CSF and plasma were reduced by one standard deviation in the IL-1Ra group compared to the placebo group, between 6 and 24 hours, as predicted by the power calculation. This did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.08 and P = 0.06, respectively), since recruitment did not reach the target figure of 32. No adverse or serious adverse events reported were attributable to IL-1Ra.

Conclusions: IL-1Ra appears safe in SAH patients. The concentration of IL-6 was lowered to the degree expected, in both CSF and plasma for patients treated with IL-1Ra.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Area Under Curve
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Cytokines / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / blood
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / drug therapy*
  • Time Factors


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein