Interleukin 1 (IL-1) is an endogenously produced cytokine that mediates a variety of physiological effects that may be beneficial or deleterious to the host. C57Bl/6 mice treated intravenously with a recently characterized human recombinant receptor antagonist protein to IL-1 (IL-1ra) had improved survival when treated after a lethal Escherichia coli endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide [LPS]) challenge. IL-1ra was effective when treatment was initiated after LPS, and intravenous administration every 4 h for 24 h was required. Serum levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) activity after LPS and in vitro TNF cytotoxicity were not altered by treatment with IL-1ra. These experiments provide direct evidence that the lethal effects of LPS may be mediated through the action of IL-1 and that the IL-1ra can provide a new treatment strategy for disease processes mediated via this cytokine.

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