1. In previous studies, experimental endotoxaemia was found to stimulate cytokine production in the central nervous system. The effect of sepsis on brain cytokines is not fully known. We compared the effect of endotoxaemia and sepsis on brain interleukin-1 and interleukin-6 expression.

2. Male A/J mice were injected subcutaneously with lipopolysaccharide (10 mg/kg) or an equal volume of saline as control. Sepsis was induced by caecal ligation and puncture (CLP); control mice underwent sham-operation. Brain tissue was assayed for interleukin-1 and interleukin-6 by ELISA. Northern blotting or the polymerase chain reaction was used to determine cytokine mRNA levels.

3. Administration of endotoxin induced a greater than fourfold increase in brain interleukin-1, a greater than threefold increase in interleukin-6 and an increase in mRNA for both cytokines. Caecal ligation and puncture resulted in increased brain interleukin-1 and interleukin-6 levels, but the changes were less pronounced and occurred later than after injection of endotoxin. There was no detectable difference in brain interleukin-1 mRNA between septic and sham-operated mice, whereas interleukin-6 mRNA was increased in brains of septic animals.

4. Sepsis and endotoxaemia resulted in similar, although not identical, changes in brain interleukin-1 and interleukin-6 concentrations and mRNA levels, suggesting that increased cytokine production in the central nervous system is part of the systemic response to sepsis and may be mediated by endotoxin.

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