By screening specific populations of rat brain cells, we found that ameboid microglia secrete an 18 kD peptide with IL-1 biological activity. The IL-1 activity released by microglia was found to be identical to rat macrophage IL-1 on fractionation by gel filtration and high pressure liquid anion-exchange chromatography, and it was neutralized by an antiserum specific for murine IL-1. When added to astroglia grown in culture, microglial IL-1 increased the cell number of five- to sevenfold, and increased astroglial incorporation of [3H]thymidine by three- to fivefold. We propose that the proliferation of astroglia in specific brain regions may be regulated by the signaled release of IL-1 from activated microglial cells.

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