IL-1 induces throboxane-A2 (TxA2) in COVID-19 causing inflammation and micro-thrombi: Inhibitory effect of the IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra)

Pio Conti, Al Caraffa, C. E. Gallenga, R. Ross, S. K. Kritas, I. Frydas, A. Younes, P. Di Emidio, G. Ronconi, E. Toniato

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IL-1 induces a significant number of metabolic and hematological changes. In experimental animals, IL-1 treatments cause hypotension due to rapid reduction of systemic blood pressure, reduced vascular resistance, increased heart rate and leukocyte aggregations. IL-1 causes endothelial dysfunction, the triggering factor of which may be of a different nature including pathogen infection. This dysfunction, which includes macrophage intervention and increased protein permeability, can be mediated by several factors including cytokines and arachidonic acid products. These effects are caused by the induction of IL-1 in various pathologies, including those caused by pathogenic viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2 which provokes COVID-19. Activation of macrophages by coronavirus-19 leads to the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, metalloproteinases and other proteolytic enzymes that can cause thrombi formation and severe respiratory dysfunction. Patients with COVID-19, seriously ill and hospitalized in intensive care, present systemic inflammation, intravascular coagulopathy with high risk of thrombotic complications, and venous thromboembolism, effects mostly mediated by IL-1. In these patients the lungs are the most critical target organ as it can present an increase in the degradation products of fibrin, fibrinogen and D-dimer, with organ lesions and respiratory failure. It is well known that IL-1 induces itself and another very important pro-inflammatory cytokine, TNF, which also participates in hemodynamic states, including shock syndrome in COVID-19. Both IL-1 and TNF cause pulmonary edema, thrombosis and bleeding. In addition to hypotension and resistance of systemic blood pressure, IL-1 causes leukopenia and thrombocytopenia. The formation of thrombi is the main complication of the circulatory system and functionality of the organ, and represents an important cause of morbidity and mortality. IL-1 causes platelet vascular thrombogenicity also on non-endothelial cells by stimulating the formation of thromboxane A2 which is released into the inflamed environment. IL-1 is the most important immune molecule in inducing fever, since it is involved in the metabolism of arachidonic acid which increases from vascular endothelial organs of the hypothalamus. The pathogenesis of thrombosis, vascular inflammation and angiogenesis involves the mediation of the activation of the prostanoid thromboxane A2 receptor. In 1988, in an interesting article we reported for the first time that IL-1 induces thromboxane B2 (TxB2) releases in activated neutrophils and macrophages. An increase in thromboxane can induce leukocyte aggregation and systemic inflammation, which would account for the dramatic thrombi formation and organ dysfunction. Hence, IL-1 stimulates endothelial cell-leukocyte adhesion, and TXB2 production. All these events are supported by the large increase in neutrophils that adhere to the lung and the decrease in lymphocytes. Therefore, eicosanoids such as TxA2 (detected as TxB2) have a powerful action on vascular inflammation and platelet aggregation, mediating the formation of thrombi. The thrombogenesis that occurs in COVID-19 includes platelet and cell aggregation with clotting abnormalities, and anti-clotting inhibitor agents are used in the prevention and therapy of thrombotic diseases. Prevention of or induction of TXA2 avoids thrombi formation induced by IL-1. However, in some serious vascular events where TxA2 increases significantly, it is difficult to inhibit, therefore, it would be much better to prevent its induction and generation by blocking its inductors including IL-1. The inhibition or lack of formation of IL-1 avoids all the above pathological events which can lead to death of the patient. The treatment of innate immune cells producing IL-1 with IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) can avoid hemodynamic changes, septic shock and organ inflammation by carrying out a new therapeutic efficacy on COVID-19 induced by SARS-CoV-2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1623-1627
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • IL-1
  • Inflammation
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Thrombosis
  • Thromboxane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Physiology
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cancer Research


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