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FASEB J. 1997 Aug;11(10):743-51.

Journey from cachexia to obesity by TNF.

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  • 1Departament de Bioquímica i Biologia Molecular, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.


Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is a cytokine involved in the physiological and metabolic abnormalities found in cachectic states. Until very recently, it was inconceivable to think of TNF-alpha in obesity. However, recent studies have shown that TNF-alpha can also play a key role in obesity, the cytokine being overexpressed in adipose tissue of obese rodents and humans. The aim of this review is to reconcile the role of TNF-alpha in these two opposite metabolic situations: obesity and cachexia. It is suggested that TNF-alpha may have a key role in the control of body mass in normal weight-controlled situations and that abnormalities in either its production (during cachexia) or action (during obesity) are responsible for the lack of control of body weight.

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