Interleukin-1 (IL-1): A central regulator of stress responses

Inbal Goshen, Raz Yirmiya*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

317 Scopus citations


Ample evidence demonstrates that the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1), produced following exposure to immunological and psychological challenges, plays an important role in the neuroendocrine and behavioral stress responses. Specifically, production of brain IL-1 is an important link in stress-induced activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and secretion of glucocorticoids, which mediate the effects of stress on memory functioning and neural plasticity, exerting beneficial effects at low levels and detrimental effects at high levels. Furthermore, IL-1 signaling and the resultant glucocorticoid secretion mediate the development of depressive symptoms associated with exposure to acute and chronic stressors, at least partly via suppression of hippocampal neurogenesis. These findings indicate that whereas under some physiological conditions low levels of IL-1 promote the adaptive stress responses necessary for efficient coping, under severe and chronic stress conditions blockade of IL-1 signaling can be used as a preventive and therapeutic procedure for alleviating stress-associated neuropathology and psychopathology.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)30-45
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Neuroendocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 295/07) and by the Israel Ministry of Health (Grant No. 2985). IG is supported by the Israel Foundations Trustees (Doctoral Grant 27/34).


  • Depression
  • Glucocorticoids
  • HPA axis
  • Interleukin-1
  • Memory
  • Neurogenesis
  • Plasticity
  • Stress


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