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N Gerard, M Caillaud, A Martoriati, G Goudet, and AC Lalmanach

Interleukins (ILs) are known best for their involvement in the immune system and their role during inflammation. In the ovary, a growing body of evidence suggests that the ovarian follicle is a site of inflammatory reactions. Thus ovarian cells could represent sources and targets of ILs. Since then, the IL-1 system components (IL-1alpha, IL-1beta, IL-1 receptor antagonist, IL-1 receptors) have been demonstrated to have several sites of synthesis in the ovary. These factors have been localized in the various ovarian cell types, such as the oocyte, granulosa and theca cells, in several mammalian species. IL-1-like bioactivity has been reported in human and porcine follicular fluid at the time of ovulation. The role of IL-1 in local processes is still poorly known, although there is evidence for involvement in the ovulation process, and in oocyte maturation. More precisely, IL-1 may be involved in several ovulation-associated events such as the synthesis of proteases, regulation of plasminogen activator activity, prostaglandin and nitric oxide production. IL-1 also regulates ovarian steroidogenesis. These different aspects of the involvement of the IL-1 system in important aspects of female reproduction are discussed.