Administration of gammalinolenic acid (GLA), an unsaturated fatty acid, reduces joint inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Addition of GLA in vitro suppresses release of IL-1beta from human monocytes stimulated with LPS. LPS-induced IL-1beta release is followed by IL-1-induced IL-1beta release, an amplification process termed autoinduction. We show here with peripheral blood monocytes from normal volunteers and from patients with rheumatoid arthritis by using IL-1R antagonist to block autoinduction and IL-1alpha stimulation to simulate autoinduction that approximately 40% of IL-1beta released from LPS-stimulated cells is attributable to autoinduction and that GLA reduces autoinduction of IL-1beta while leaving the initial IL-1beta response to LPS intact.

Experiments with cells in which transcription and protein synthesis were blocked suggest that GLA induces a protein that reduces pro-IL-1beta mRNA stability. IL-1beta is important to host defense, but the amplification mechanism may be excessive in genetically predisposed patients.

Thus, reduction of IL-1beta autoinduction may be protective in some patients with endotoxic shock and with diseases characterized by chronic inflammation.