• Cytokines;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Inflammation;
  • Interleukin-1β;
  • Glia;
  • Hippocampus

Summary: Purpose: Cytokines and related inflammatory mediators are rapidly synthesized in the brain during seizures. We previously found that intracerebral administration of interleukin-1 (IL-1)-β has proconvulsant effects, whereas its endogenous receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) mediates potent anticonvulsant actions in various models of limbic seizures. In this study, we investigated whether seizures can be effectively inhibited by blocking the brain production of IL-1β, by using selective inhibitors of interleukin-converting enzyme (ICE/caspase-1) or through caspase-1 gene deletion.

Methods: Caspase-1 was selectively blocked by using pralnacasan or VX-765. IL-1β release was induced in mouse organotypic hippocampal slice cultures by proinflammatory stimuli [lipopolysaccaride (LPS) + adenosine triphosphate (ATP)] and measured with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). IL-1β production during seizures was measured in the rat hippocampus by Western blot. Seizures were induced in freely moving mice and rats by intrahippocampal injection of kainic acid and recorded by EEG analysis.

Results: Caspase-1 inhibition reduced the release of IL-1β in organotypic slices exposed to LPS+ATP. Administration of pralnacasan (intracerebroventricular, 50 μg) or VX-765 (intraperitoneal, 25–200 mg/kg) to rats blocked seizure-induced production of IL-1β in the hippocampus, and resulted in a twofold delay in seizure onset and 50% reduction in seizure duration. Mice with caspase-1 gene deletion showed a 70% reduction in seizures and an approximate fourfold delay in their onset.

Conclusions: Inhibition of caspase-1 represents an effective and novel anticonvulsive strategy, which acts by selectively reducing the brain availability of IL-1β.