Molecular mechanisms involved in interleukin 1-beta (IL-1β)-induced memory impairment. Modulation by alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH)

P. Gonzalez, I. Machado, A. Vilcaes, C. Caruso, G. A. Roth, H. Schiöth, M. Lasaga, T. Scimonelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Pro-inflammatory cytokines can affect cognitive processes such as learning and memory. Particularly, interleukin-1β (IL-1β) influences the consolidation of hippocampus-dependent memories. We previously reported that administration of IL-1β in dorsal hippocampus impaired contextual fear memory consolidation. Different mechanisms have been implicated in the action of IL-1β on long-term potentiation (LTP), but the processes by which this inhibition occurs in vivo remain to be elucidated. We herein report that intrahippocampal injection of IL-1β induced a significant increase in p38 phosphorylation after contextual fear conditioning. Also, treatment with SB203580, an inhibitor of p38, reversed impairment induced by IL-1β on conditioned fear behavior, indicating that this MAPK would be involved in the effect of the cytokine. We also showed that IL-1β administration produced a decrease in glutamate release from dorsal hippocampus synaptosomes and that treatment with SB203580 partially reversed this effect. Our results indicated that IL-1β-induced impairment in memory consolidation could be mediated by a decrease in glutamate release. This hypothesis is sustained by the fact that treatment with d-cycloserine (DCS), a partial agonist of the NMDA receptor, reversed the effect of IL-1β on contextual fear memory. Furthermore, we demonstrated that IL-1β produced a temporal delay in ERK phosphorylation and that DCS administration reversed this effect. We also observed that intrahippocampal injection of IL-1β decreased BDNF expression after contextual fear conditioning. We previously demonstrated that α-MSH reversed the detrimental effect of IL-1β on memory consolidation. The present results demonstrate that α-MSH administration did not modify the decrease in glutamate release induced by IL-1β. However, intrahippocampal injection of α-MSH prevented the effect on ERK phosphorylation and BDNF expression induced by IL-1β after contextual fear conditioning. Therefore, in the present study we determine possible molecular mechanisms involved in the impairment induced by IL-1β on fear memory consolidation. We also established how this effect could be modulated by α-MSH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-150
Number of pages10
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • BDNF
  • ERK
  • Glutamate release
  • IL-1β
  • Memory consolidation
  • P38
  • α-MSH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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