Pathophysiologic effect of interleukin-1b in the rabbit retina

James A. Martiney, Mona Litwak, Joan W. Berman, Joseph C. Arezzo, Celia F. Brosnan

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47 Scopus citations


Interleukin-1 is a potent immunomodulator and has been shown to initiate many aspects of the inflammatory response. To determine the effects of IL-1b in the central nervous system (CNS), the rabbit retina was used, adjacent to which factors can be injected with minimal trauma and both pathologic and physiologic effects can be monitored. Intravitreal injection of 300 units of IL-1b induced an alteration in the visual evoked potentials (VEP) that was associated with marked intravascular red blood cell accumulations, hemorrhage, and cellular Inflammation of the epiretinal vessels. Analysis of these events showed slowing and occasional hyper-excitability of the compound action potential of the optic tract and of the cortical VEP that correlate with the maximum inflammatory response. Histologic studies show the following: no apparent response occurs within the first 1.5 hours after intraocular challenge-, and between 3 and 6 hours after injection an extensive intravascular red blood cell accumulation and progressive hemorrhage is accompanied by an increase in the number of mononuclear (MN) cells and the appearance of polymorphonuclear (PMN) cells. Polymorphonuclear cells continue to increase with time to give a single wave of inflammation that peaks 24 hours after injection, while the number of MN cells steadily increases. These events are associated with changes in the permeability of the blood-brain barrier and correlate with the electrophysiologic dysfunctions. Forty-one hours after injection, MN inflammation, reactivegliosis, and residual PMN inflammation are evident. Neutralization with specific antibody inhibited the responses through 6 hours after injection. It is concluded that the rabbit retina provides a valuable model for the in vivo analysis of CNS inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1411-1423
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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