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Z Gastroenterol. 2002 Aug;40(8):587-600.

Functional relevance of soluble TNF-alpha, transmembrane TNF-alpha and TNF-signal transduction in gastrointestinal diseases with special reference to inflammatory bowel diseases.

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Department of Medicine, Johannes-Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany.


As a result of extensive clinical and basic research, the pivotal role of tumour necrosis factor (TNF) in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has now generally been acknowledged. This has led to promising clinically effective anti-TNF-strategies. Of note, there is more and more evidence that TNF seems to play a key role in other gastrointestinal diseases including Helicobacter pylori infection, pancreatitis, viral hepatitis and toxic liver damage, too. The action of TNF at the cellular level is mediated by two cell surface receptors, TNF-R1 (p60) and TNF-R2 (p80). The function of these receptors and the downstream intracellular signal transduction pathway have been extensively studied in vitro and it can be expected, that there are critically important steps in TNF-signal transduction that might be dysregulated in these disease states. Their elucidation could lead to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of these diseases, in particular IBD and potentially reveal new, more specific therapeutic targets. Objective of this review is to give an overview about the current knowledge on TNF signal transduction in relationship to selected examples of important gastrointestinal disorders with special focus on IBD. Finally, the implications for future research efforts will be discussed.

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