Interleukin-1 beta (IL-1ß) is a cytokine that is produced by the immune system and a variety of cells in response to an insult. Previous work in our lab has demonstrated that this cytokine is capable of affecting specific neurotransmitter systems in specific parts of the brain by crossing the blood brain barrier or by acting through the vagus. This results in stimulation of specific nuclei in the brainstem that in turn connect with different parts of the hypothalamus. By modulating neurotransmitter levels in hypothalamic nuclei, IL-1ß is capable of activating the stress axis and inhibiting the reproductive axis.
Currently, we are trying to understand the role of IL-1ß and related cytokines in the neuroendocrine effects that result from in utero exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) such as bisphenol-A and phthalates. Our recent findings indicate that prenatal exposures to very low levels of these EDCs can “program” the developing fetus and make the offspring obese, hypertensive and compromise reproductive function when they grow into adults. We use rodent models and cell culture in our experiments. Our lab uses a variety of techniques ranging from in vitro incubation of tissues, brain surgery, HPLC analysis of neurotransmitters, and proteomic analysis of brain and blood samples.
- Neuroendocrinology of stress and reproduction in the context of environmental exposures.
- Publications by Sheba M. J. MohanKumar may be found at PubMed.