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Nuclear retention of IL-1 alpha by necrotic cells: A mechanism to dampen sterile inflammation

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2973-2980
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


Sterile inflammation is a host response to tissue injury that is mediated by damage-associated molecular patterns released from dead cells. Sterile inflammation worsens damage in a number of injury paradigms. The pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1 alpha is reported to be a damage-associated molecular pattern released from dead cells, and it is known to exacerbate brain injury caused by stroke. In the brain, IL-1 alpha is produced by microglia, the resident brain macrophages. We found that IL-1 alpha is actively trafficked to the nuclei of microglia, and hence tested the hypothesis that trafficking of IL-1 alpha to the nucleus would inhibit its release following necrotic cell death, limiting sterile inflammation. Microglia subjected to oxygen-glucose deprivation died via necrosis. Under these conditions, microglia expressing nuclear IL-1 alpha released significantly less IL-1 alpha than microglia with predominantly cytosolic IL-1 alpha. The remaining IL-1 alpha was immobilized in the nuclei of the dead cells. Thus, nuclear retention of IL-1 alpha may serve to limit inflammation following cell death.

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