Two distinct types of receptors that bind the pleiotropic cytokines IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta have been described. The IL-1 receptor Type I is an 80 kDa transmembrane protein that is expressed predominantly by T cells, fibroblasts, and endothelial cells. IL-1 receptor Type II is a 68 kDa transmembrane protein found on B lymphocytes, neutrophils, monocytes, large granular leukocytes and, endothelial cells. Both receptors are members of the immunoglobulin superfamily and show approximately 28% sequence similarity in their extracellular domains. The two receptor types do not heterodimerize in a receptor complex.
IL-1 RII has a short cytoplasmic domain and does not transduce IL-1 signals. In addition to the membrane-bound form of IL-1 RII, a naturally-occurring soluble form of IL-1 RII has been described. It has been suggested that the Type II receptor, either as the membrane-bound or as the soluble form, serves as a decoy for IL-1 and inhibits IL-1 action by blocking the binding of IL-1 to the signaling Type I receptor complex. Recombinant IL-1 soluble receptor type II is a potent antagonist of IL-1 action.