In bacterial meningitis, LPS induces production in cerebrospinal fluid of the cytokines IL-1 beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha), which are the principle mediators of meningeal inflammation. IL-1 beta and TNF alpha induce fever, and elevated temperature may affect cytokine expression. Dexamethasone treatment improves outcome in bacterial meningitis possibly by inhibiting IL-1 beta and TNF alpha. In this report, the effects of elevated temperature and dexamethasone on LPS-stimulated IL-1 beta and TNF alpha mRNA gene expression and protein synthesis were studied in human astrocytoma cell lines and primary cultures of human fetal astrocytes. Cells cultured at 40 degrees C exhibited smaller peaks of IL-1 beta and TNF alpha transcription and protein synthesis compared with cells cultured at 37 degrees C. The addition of dexamethasone before, during, or after exposure of the cells to LPS resulted in temperature-dependent inhibition of IL-1 beta transcription and protein synthesis. The most extensive inhibition occurred in pretreated cells cultured at 37 degrees C. Cotreatment with LPS and dexamethasone also inhibited TNF alpha mRNA transcription at both temperatures. The effects of another antiinflammatory agent, indomethacin, on LPS induction of IL-1 beta and TNF alpha mRNA were temperature and cell line dependent. These findings provide a possible explanation for the efficacy of dexamethasone treatment of bacterial meningitis and support the proposal that fever may be beneficial to the host in this disease.
S Velasco, M Tarlow, K Olsen, J W Shay, G H McCracken Jr, P D Nisen