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Effects of an interleukin-1 receptor antagonist on human sleep, sleep-associated memory consolidation, and blood monocytes.

Abstract

Pro-inflammatory cytokines like interleukin-1 beta (IL-1) are major players in the interaction between the immune system and the central nervous system. Various animal studies report a sleep-promoting effect of IL-1 leading to enhanced slow wave sleep (SWS). Moreover, this cytokine was shown to affect hippocampus-dependent memory. However, the role of IL-1 in human sleep and memory is not yet understood. We administered the synthetic IL-1 receptor antagonist anakinra (IL-1ra) in healthy humans (100mg, subcutaneously, before sleep; n=16) to investigate the role of IL-1 signaling in sleep regulation and sleep-dependent declarative memory consolidation. Inasmuch monocytes have been considered a model for central nervous microglia, we monitored cytokine production in classical and non-classical blood monocytes to gain clues about how central nervous effects of IL-1ra are conveyed. Contrary to our expectation, IL-1ra increased EEG slow wave activity during SWS and non-rapid eye movement (NonREM) sleep, indicating a deepening of sleep, while sleep-associated memory consolidation remained unchanged. Moreover, IL-1ra slightly increased prolactin and reduced cortisol levels during sleep. Production of IL-1 by classical monocytes was diminished after IL-1ra. The discrepancy to findings in animal studies might reflect species differences and underlines the importance of studying cytokine effects in humans.

Authors: Schmidt EM, Linz B, Diekelmann S, Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J.
Journal: Brain Behav Immun.;47:178-85.
Year: 2015
PubMed: Find in PubMed