Interleukin-1 mediates ischaemic brain injury via distinct actions on endothelial cells and cholinergic neurons.


The cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1) is a key contributor to neuroinflammation and brain injury, yet mechanisms by which IL-1 triggers neuronal injury remain unknown. Here we induced conditional deletion of IL-1R1 in brain endothelial cells, neurons and blood cells to assess site-specific IL-1 actions in a model of cerebral ischaemia in mice. Tamoxifen treatment of IL-1R1 floxed ((fl/fl)) mice crossed with mice expressing tamoxifen-inducible Cre-recombinase under the Slco1c1 promoter resulted in brain endothelium-specific deletion of IL-1R1 and a significant decrease in infarct size (29%), blood-brain barrier (BBB) breakdown (53%) and neurological deficit (40%) compared to vehicle- treated or control (IL-1R1(fl/fl)) mice. Absence of brain endothelial IL-1 signalling improved cerebral blood flow, followed by reduced neutrophil infiltration and vascular activation 24h after brain injury. Conditional IL-1R1 deletion in neurons using tamoxifen inducible nestin- Cre mice resulted in reduced neuronal injury (25%) and altered microglia- neuron interactions, without affecting cerebral perfusion or vascular activation. Deletion of IL-1R1 specifically in cholinergic neurons reduced infarct size, brain oedema and improved functional outcome. Ubiquitous deletion of IL-1R1 had no effect on brain injury, suggesting beneficial compensatory mechanisms on other cells against the detrimental effects of IL-1 on endothelial cells and neurons. We also show that IL-1R1 signalling deletion in platelets or myeloid cells does not contribute to brain injury after experimental stroke. Thus, brain endothelial and neuronal (cholinergic) IL-1R1 mediate detrimental actions of IL-1 in the brain in ischaemic stroke. Cell-specific targeting of IL-1R1 in the brain could therefore have therapeutic benefits in stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases.

Brain Behav Immun