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J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2007 Jun;2(2):140-53. Epub 2007 Mar 31.

Divergent roles for tumor necrosis factor-alpha in the brain.

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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC-NIOSH, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA.


Proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines have been implicated in the pathogenesis of several neurological and neurodegenerative disorders. Prominent among such factors is the pleiotropic cytokine, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha. Under normal physiological conditions, TNF-alpha orchestrates a diverse array of functions involved in immune surveillance and defense, cellular homeostasis, and protection against certain neurological insults. However, paradoxical effects of this cytokine have been observed. TNF-alpha is elicited in the brain following injury (ischemia, trauma), infection (HIV, meningitis), neurodegeneration (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's), and chemically induced neurotoxicity. The multifarious identity for this cytokine appears to be influenced by several mechanisms. Among the most prominent are the regulation of TNFalpha-induced NF-kappaB activation by adapter proteins such as TRADD and TRAF, and second, the heterogeneity of microglia and their distribution pattern across brain regions. Here, we review the differential role of TNF-alpha in response to brain injury, with emphasis on neurodegeneration, and discuss the possible mechanisms for such diverse and region-specific effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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