Journal of Clinical Immunology

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 508–516 | Cite as

Imbalances Between Interleukin-1 and Tumor Necrosis Factor Agonists and Antagonists in Stable COPD

  • Elizabeth SapeyEmail author
  • Ali Ahmad
  • Darren Bayley
  • Paul Newbold
  • Noel Snell
  • Paul Rugman
  • Robert A. Stockley



Interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) are potentially important in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), but little is known of the relationships between these cytokines and their antagonists in disease compared with healthy controls. It is unclear if concentrations relate to disease severity. The study aimed to investigate these relationships and to assess the potential activity of each cytokine in the context of their antagonists.


Plasma cytokines, soluble receptors, and cell counts were measured in patients with stable COPD and age-matched healthy controls (n = 15 for both) daily for 5 days; these mediators were also measured in corresponding sputum samples from the COPD patients.


COPD patients had significantly reduced concentrations of the antagonists, IL-1sRII, and IL-1RA compared with controls. In COPD, IL-1β exceeded its antagonists and correlated significantly with BMI and FEV1, while plasma IL-1RA correlated positively with BMI but negatively with sputum IL-1β, neutrophil, and macrophage counts and smoking history. TNFα antagonists exceeded agonists in both groups and did not correlate with COPD severity.


Endogenous IL-1β antagonists appear reduced in COPD. Furthermore, IL-1β correlated with clinical aspects of disease severity, suggesting that IL-1β may play a critical role in COPD. Given the relevant concentrations and binding affinities, it is likely that TNFα has limited activity in stable COPD.


Neutrophils cytokines cytokine receptors inflammation lung 



We wish to thank Diane Griffiths for her help with patient recruitment during this study and AstraZeneca for unrestricted funding for the study. The salary of E Sapey was supported by the West Midlands Chest Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Sapey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ali Ahmad
    • 1
  • Darren Bayley
    • 2
  • Paul Newbold
    • 3
  • Noel Snell
    • 3
  • Paul Rugman
    • 3
  • Robert A. Stockley
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Department of Respiratory MedicineUniversity Hospital BirminghamBirminghamUK
  3. 3.Research and DevelopmentAstraZenecaLondonUK

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