The human burn wound as a primary source of interleukin-1 activity

Surgery. 1986 Aug;100(2):409-15.


It has been suggested that interleukin 1 (IL-1) may be elevated systemically after major burn injury. Several metabolic changes commonly observed in patients with burns can be attributed in part to elevated IL-1 production; these include temperature elevation, skeletal muscle proteolysis, and alterations in the production of certain serum proteins by the hepatocyte (e.g., albumin and acute phase reactants). In this article we describe a likely source of this elevated IL-1 activity: the burn wound. Fluid taken from blisters on thermally injured skin early after burn injury contains substantial amounts of IL-1. This activity is less apparent in certain blister fluid (BF) samples, probably because of the presence of an inhibitor(s) of lymphocyte proliferation. However, after gel filtration high-performance liquid chromatography, the IL-1 actively elutes at a molecular weight of 15,000 to 20,000 daltons and can be blocked with an antibody to IL-1. We suggest that the source of this IL-1 activity is the injured keratinocyte and that release of this IL-1 systemically is inevitable. We postulate that release of IL-1 from the wound into the systemic circulation accounts in part for the metabolic changes outlined above. Furthermore, since epidermal IL-1 is a potent T cell chemoattractant, we believe that burn wound IL-1 may affect sequestration of T cells near the burn wound, resulting in T cell lymphopenia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blister / metabolism
  • Burns / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Exudates and Transudates / analysis
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / biosynthesis*
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Interleukin-1