Interleukin-1 blockade attenuates white matter inflammation and oligodendrocyte loss after progressive systemic lipopolysaccharide exposure in near-term fetal sheep

Sharmony B. Kelly, Vanesa Stojanovska, Valerie A. Zahra, Alison Moxham, Suzanne L. Miller, Timothy J.M. Moss, Stuart B. Hooper, Marcel F. Nold, Claudia A. Nold-Petry, Justin M. Dean, Laura Bennet, Graeme R. Polglase, Alistair J. Gunn, Robert Galinsky

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Increased systemic and tissue levels of interleukin (IL)-1β are associated with greater risk of impaired neurodevelopment after birth. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that systemic IL-1 receptor antagonist (Ra) administration would attenuate brain inflammation and injury in near-term fetal sheep exposed to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Methods: Chronically instrumented near-term fetal sheep at 0.85 of gestation were randomly assigned to saline infusion (control, n = 9), repeated LPS infusions (0 h = 300 ng, 24 h = 600 ng, 48 h = 1200 ng, n = 8) or repeated LPS plus IL-1Ra infusions (13 mg/kg infused over 4 h) started 1 h after each LPS infusion (n = 9). Sheep were euthanized 4 days after starting infusions for histology. Results: LPS infusions increased circulating cytokines and were associated with electroencephalogram (EEG) suppression with transiently reduced mean arterial blood pressure, and increased carotid artery perfusion and fetal heart rate (P < 0.05 vs. control for all). In the periventricular and intragyral white matter, LPS-exposure increased IL-1β immunoreactivity, numbers of caspase 3+ cells and microglia, reduced astrocyte and olig-2+ oligodendrocyte survival but did not change numbers of mature CC1+ oligodendrocytes, myelin expression or numbers of neurons in the cortex and subcortical regions. IL-1Ra infusions reduced circulating cytokines and improved recovery of EEG activity and carotid artery perfusion. Histologically, IL-1Ra reduced microgliosis, IL-1β expression and caspase-3+ cells, and improved olig-2+ oligodendrocyte survival. Conclusion: IL-1Ra improved EEG activity and markedly attenuated systemic inflammation, microgliosis and oligodendrocyte loss following LPS exposure in near-term fetal sheep. Further studies examining the long-term effects on brain maturation are now needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number189
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Brain
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-1

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