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Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 1999 Jun;10(2):119-30.

Dual role of tumor necrosis factor alpha in brain injury.

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Department of Pharmacology, Hebrew University School of Pharmacy, Jerusalem, Israel.


Brain injury (ischemia, trauma) is among the leading cause of mortality and disability in the western world. It induces increased production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF alpha) by brain resident cells. There is conflicting evidence on the role of this response in the injured brain, showing its potential effect in both processes of repair and of damage. This review presents data from clinical and experimental studies on the stimulation of TNF alpha production in brain injury and on the deleterious consequence of this acute response. Its inhibition by pharmacologic agents, neutralizing antibodies or soluble receptors has protective effects. In contrast, there are reports (from in-vitro studies or knock-out mice) on the beneficial effects of TNF alpha. To reconcile these apparently conflicting reports, the exact timing and extent of TNF alpha activation must be taken into account, as well as the presence of other mediators such as reactive oxygen species. It is suggested that the appropriate context of mediators, at any given time after brain injury may well determine whether the effect of TNF alpha is protective or toxic.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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