Microglia and CNS Interleukin-1: Beyond Immunological Concepts

Front Neurol. 2018 Jan 23;9:8. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2018.00008. eCollection 2018.


Activation of microglia and expression of the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1) in the CNS have become almost synonymous with neuroinflammation. In numerous studies, increased CNS IL-1 expression and altered microglial morphology have been used as hallmarks of CNS inflammation. A central concept of how CNS IL-1 and microglia influence functions of the nervous system was derived from the notion initially generated in the peripheral immune system: IL-1 stimulates monocyte/macrophage (the peripheral counterparts of microglia) to amplify inflammation. It is increasingly clear, however, CNS IL-1 acts on other targets in the CNS and microglia participates in many neural functions that are not related to immunological activities. Further, CNS exhibits immunological privilege (although not as absolute as previously thought), rendering amplification of inflammation within CNS under stringent control. This review will analyze current literature to evaluate the contribution of immunological and non-immunological aspects of microglia/IL-1 interaction in the CNS to gain insights for how these aspects might affect health and disease in the nervous tissue.

Keywords: IL-1R1; brain; cytokine; neuroinflammation; neuromodulation.

Publication types

  • Review