Production and regulation of interleukin-1 family cytokines at the materno-fetal interface

Louis Scott, Aled Bryant, April Rees, Billy Down, Ruth Jones, Catherine Thornton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


IL-1 family members regulate innate immune responses, are produced by gestation-associated tissues, and have a role in healthy and adverse pregnancy outcomes. To better understand their role at the materno-fetal interface we used a human tissue explant model to map lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated production of IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-18, IL-33, IL-1Ra, IL-18BPa, ST2 and IL-1RAcP by placenta, choriodecidua and amnion. Caspase-dependent processing of IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-18, and IL-33 and the ability of IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-18, and IL-33 to regulate the production of IL-1RA, IL-18BPa, ST2 and IL-1RAcP was also determined. LPS acted as a potent inducer of IL-1 family member expression especially in the placenta and choriodecidua with the response by the amnion restricted to IL-1β. Caspases-1, 4 and 8 contributed to LPS-stimulated production of IL-1β and IL-18, whereas calpain was required for IL-1α production. Exogenous administration of IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-18, and IL-33 lead to differential expression of IL-1Ra, IL-18BPa, ST2 and IL-1RAcP across all tissues examined. Most notable were the counter-regulatory effect of LPS on IL-1β and IL-1Ra in the amnion and the broad responsiveness of the amnion to IL-1 family cytokines for increased production of immunomodulatory peptides and soluble receptors. The placenta and membranes vary not only in their output of various IL-1 family members but also in their counter-regulatory mechanisms through endogenous inhibitory peptides, processing enzymes and soluble decoy receptors. This interactive network of inflammatory mediators likely contributes to innate defence mechanisms at the materno-fetal interface to limit, in particular, the detrimental effects of microbial invasion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-202
Early online date13 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytokines
  • IL-1 family
  • Placenta
  • Reproductive immunology


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