Expression of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) protein is known to be plastic and to depend critically on the astrocytes' microenvironment. In the present study we investigated whether interleukins, which are involved in the immune response following brain injury, could contribute to the regulation of mGluR5 protein in human astrocytes in culture. Using Western blotting and immunocytochemistry, no detectable changes in the expression of the mGluR5 protein were observed with both interleukin 1β and interleukin 6 in undifferentiated cultures (growing in serum free media). In contrast, in cultures that had been morphologically differentiated by exposure to epidermal growth factor (EGF), addition of interleukin 1β (but not interleukin 6) reduced mGluR5 protein expression. In addition, stimulation of phosphoinositide hydrolysis by the selective group I agonist (S)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG) was reduced after exposure to interleukin 1β. The suppressive effect on mGluR5 was prevented by the interleukin 1 receptor antagonist. Thus, interleukin 1β may represent an additional pathway through which mGluR5 expression and function can be modulated in astrocytes under different pathological conditions associated with an inflammatory response.