Interleukin-1 (IL-1) is a key mediator of changes in immune, endocrine and metabolic activities, collectively called the acute phase response, seen during infection and tissue injury. The purpose of the present study was to clarify a possible role of the sympathetic nervous system in the responses to IL-1 in rats. Intraperitoneal injection of IL-1 elicited an increase in rectal temperature and white blood cell count and a decrease in the plasma levels of glucose, iron and triglyceride. Pretreatment of rats with 6-hydroxydopamine or a ganglionic blocking agent abolished some of the responses, such as hypoglycemia and the increased white blood cell count. IL-1 injection also accelerated norepinephrine turnover, an index of sympathetic nerve activity, in the spleen and lung without appreciably affecting many other organs, such as the liver, heart, pancreas and brown adipose tissue. It was concluded that IL-1 activates the sympathetic nerves specifically in the spleen and lung, and can thereby influence the immune and metabolic functions of these organs.
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