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Crit Care Clin. 1989 Jan;5(1):27-47.

Role of tumor necrosis factor in sepsis and acute lung injury.

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Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois.


TNF is a small protein secreted by activated monocytes and macrophages that mediates the in vivo effects of endotoxin. When injected into experimental animals, TNF reproduces the picture of septic or endotoxin shock. In addition, antibodies to TNF protect animals against the deleterious effects of IV injections of either LPS or live bacteria. Specifically, the available evidence suggests that TNF may be necessary for the organ injury and failure seen in sepsis. However, TNF probably is not the final common pathway to shock and tissue injury. Inhibition of cyclooxygenase is protective from the lethal effects of both LPS and TNF infusion, suggesting that prostanoids play an important, and perhaps more proximal role in the generation of tissue injury. In addition, TNF is produced and cleared from the blood-stream within a short period of time after an LPS stimulus, suggesting that TNF sets into motion a chain of events that may be self-perpetuating even in the absence of further TNF stimulus. In the near future, the treatment of sepsis may involve the administration of antibodies both to TNF and to LPS. Cyclooxygenase inhibitors should also begin to play a role in the therapy of sepsis. In the more distant future it is likely that we will be able to manipulate the state of activation of genes that code for TNF to exert some control over its production and secretion. It is perhaps within our grasp to finally reduce the morbidity and mortality of this lethal condition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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