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Studies of radioresistance and radioprotection provide an excellent in vivo model for dissection of the pathophysiological role of cytokines. The availability of neutralizing antibodies to cytokines has made it possible to assess the contribution of cytokines to host defense and repair processes involved in radioresistance and radioprotection. Administration of anti-interleukin 1 receptor (IL-1R) antibody (35F5) or anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antibody (TN3 19.12) reduced survival of irradiated CD2F1 mice. These results demonstrate conclusively that natural levels of IL-1 and TNF contribute to radioresistance of normal mice. Furthermore, the radioprotective effect of administered IL-1 was blocked not only with anti-IL-1R antibody but also with anti-TNF antibody. Similarly, the radioprotective effect of TNF was reduced with anti-IL-1R antibody. These data suggest that cooperative interaction of both cytokines is necessary to achieve successful radioprotection. Finally, when LPS was used as a radioprotector, the combined administration of anti-IL-1R and anti-TNF not only blocked the radioprotection with LPS, but actually revealed LPS to have a radiosensitizing effect. This effect may be due to induction of TGF-beta, since administration of this cytokine results in reduced survival of irradiated mice.