The role of IL-6 and IL-1β in painful perineural inflammatory neuritis

Eli Eliav, Rafael Benoliel, Uri Herzberg, Mythili Kalladka, Michael Tal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Inflammation along a nerve trunk (perineural inflammation), without detectable axonal damage, has been shown to induce transient pain in the organ supplied by the nerve. The aims of the present study were to study the role IL-6 and IL-1β, in pain induced by perineural inflammation. Methods: IL-6 and IL-1β secretion from rat's sciatic nerves, L-5 Dorsal Root Ganglia (DRG), and the hind paw skin, 3 and 8 days following exposure of the nerve to Complete Freund's Adjuvant (CFA), were measured using ELISA method. Hind paw tactile-allodynia, mechano-hyperalgesia, heat-allodynia and electrical detection thresholds were tested up to 8 days following the application of CFA, IL-6 or IL-1β adjacent to the sciatic nerve trunk. Employing electrophysiological recording, saphenous nerve spontaneous activity, nerve trunk mechano-sensitivity and paw tactile detection threshold (determined by recording action potential induced by the lowest mechanical stimulus) were assessed 3 and 8 days following exposure of the nerve trunk to CFA, IL-6, or IL-1β. Results: IL-6 and IL-1β secretion from the nerve was significantly elevated on the 3rd day post-operation (DPO). On the 8th DPO, IL-6 levels returned to baseline while IL-1β levels remained significantly elevated. The DRG cytokine's level was increased on the 3rd and 8th DPOs, contralateral cytokine's level was increased on the 3rd DPO. The skin IL-6 level was increased bilaterally on the 3rd DPO and returned to baseline on the 8th DPO. IL-1β levels increased in the affected side on the 3rd and bilaterally on the 8th DPO. Direct application of IL-6 or CFA on the sciatic nerve induced significant hind paw tactile-allodynia from the 1st to 5th DPOs, reduced electrical detection threshold from the 1st to 3rd DPOs, mechano-hyperalgesia from 3rd to 5th DPOs and heat-allodynia on the 3rd DPO. Direct application of IL-1β induced paw tactile and heat-allodynia on the 7-8th DPOs and mechano-hyperalgesia on the 5-8th DPOs. Perineural inflammation significantly increased spontaneous activity myelinated fibres 3 and 8 days following the application. Direct application of IL-6 induced elevation of spontaneous activity on the 3rd while IL-1β on the 8th DPO. Nerve mechano-sensitivity was significantly increased on the 3rd day following exposure to CFA and IL-6 and on the 8th following CFA application. The rat's paw lowest mechanical force necessary for induction of action potential, was significantly reduced 3 days following CFA application. Conclusion: IL-6 and IL-1β play an important role in pain induced by perineural inflammation. IL-6 activity is more prominent immediately following application (2-5th DPOs), while IL-1β, activity is more significant in a later stage (5-8th DPOs).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-484
Number of pages11
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Cytokines
  • IL-1β
  • IL-6
  • Inflammation
  • Neuritis
  • Neuropathic pain


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