Initial evaluation of human recombinant interleukin-1 receptor antagonist in the treatment of sepsis syndrome: a randomized, open-label, placebo-controlled multicenter trial

Crit Care Med. 1994 Jan;22(1):12-21. doi: 10.1097/00003246-199401000-00008.


Objectives: To evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics, and efficacy of human recombinant interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) in the treatment of patients with sepsis syndrome.

Design: Prospective, open-label, placebo-controlled, phase II, multicenter clinical trial using three different doses of human recombinant IL-1ra.

Setting: Twelve academic medical center intensive care units in the United States.

Patients: Ninety-nine patients with sepsis syndrome or septic shock who received standard supportive care and antimicrobial therapy, in addition to infusion with escalating doses of IL-1ra or placebo.

Interventions: Patients received an intravenous loading dose of either human recombinant IL-1ra (100 mg) or placebo, followed by a 72-hr intravenous infusion of either one of three doses of IL-1ra (17, 67, or 133 mg/hr) or placebo. All patients were evaluated for 28-day, all-cause mortality.

Measurements and main results: A dose-dependent, 28-day survival benefit was associated with IL-1ra treatment (p = .015), as indicated by the following mortality rates: 11 (44%) deaths among 25 placebo patients; eight (32%) deaths among 25 patients receiving IL-1ra 17 mg/hr; six (25%) deaths among 24 patients receiving IL-1ra 67 mg/hr; and four (16%) deaths among 25 patients receiving IL-1ra 133 mg/hr. A dose-related survival benefit was observed with infusion of IL-1ra in patients with septic shock at study entry (n = 65; p = .002) and in patients with Gram-negative infection (n = 45; p = .04). Patients with an increased circulating interleukin-6 (IL-6) concentration of > 100 pg/mL at study entry demonstrated a dose-related survival benefit with IL-1ra treatment (p = .009). In patients with an increased IL-6 concentration at study entry, the magnitude of the decrease in IL-6 concentration 24 hrs after the initiation of therapy was correlated with increasing the IL-1ra treatment dose (p = .052). A significant dose-related reduction in the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE II) score was achieved by the end of infusion (p = .038). A renal elimination mechanism for IL-1ra was suggested by the positive correlation between IL-1ra plasma clearance and estimated creatinine clearance (p = .001; r2 = .51). Human recombinant IL-1ra was well tolerated.

Conclusions: This initial evaluation suggests that human recombinant IL-1ra is safe and may provide a dose-related survival advantage to patients with sepsis syndrome. A larger, definitive clinical trial is needed to confirm these findings.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Bacterial Infections / mortality
  • Bacterial Infections / physiopathology
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Shock, Septic / drug therapy*
  • Shock, Septic / mortality
  • Shock, Septic / physiopathology
  • Sialoglycoproteins / administration & dosage*
  • Sialoglycoproteins / blood
  • Sialoglycoproteins / pharmacokinetics


  • Cytokines
  • IL1RN protein, human
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1
  • Sialoglycoproteins