Cultured sympathetic neurons synthesize and release the cytokine interleukin 1 beta. Academic Article uri icon


  • Autonomic neurons help to regulate immune responses, and there are reciprocal interactions between the nervous and immune systems. This study seeks to define some of the molecular mechanisms that may underlie such interactions. Immunoblot analysis indicated that cultured sympathetic neurons synthesize and release the cytokine interleukin 1 beta (IL-1 beta). In addition, RNA blot analysis of cultured sympathetic neurons demonstrated that the neurons contain mRNA encoding IL-1 beta. It was previously shown that explant cultures of sympathetic ganglia and dissociated cocultures of neurons with ganglionic nonneuronal cells synthesize substance P, whereas in situ levels of substance P and its mRNA are low. An antagonist at the interleukin 1 receptor markedly depressed this increase in substance P in cultures, suggesting that endogenous IL-1 beta mediates the synthetic response, at least in part. Because pure neuronal cultures do not contain substance P and neurons synthesize and release IL-1 beta, the actions of the cytokine require the presence of ganglion nonneuronal cells. These observations suggest a role for autonomic neurons in influencing immune responses by synthesizing and secreting at least two known immunoregulators, the cytokine IL-1 beta and the neuropeptide substance P.

publication date

  • November 1, 1992