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J Comp Neurol. 1993 Nov 22;337(4):543-67.

Distribution and characterization of tumor necrosis factor-alpha-like immunoreactivity in the murine central nervous system.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637.


Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha) is a protein released from macrophages during infection and inflammation. Recent studies suggest that it has several effects within the central nervous system, including generation of fever, enhancement of slow wave sleep, and stimulation of pituitary hormone secretion. We have proposed that TNF alpha may be synthesized by neurons in the CNS and used as a neuromodulator in the pathways involved in the central control of these activities. To test this hypothesis, we have used an antiserum raised against recombinant murine (rm) TNF alpha with an indirect immunoperoxidase technique to stain the murine CNS immunohistochemically. Western blot analysis of mouse brain homogenates revealed one band with electrophoretic mobility identical to that of rmTNF alpha. We identified TNF alpha-like immunoreactive (ir) neurons in the hypothalamus, in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, in the caudal raphe nuclei, and along the ventral pontine and medullary surface. TNF alpha ir innervation was widespread within the CNS, particularly in areas involved in autonomic and endocrine regulation, including the hypothalamus, amygdala, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, parabrachial nucleus, dorsal vagal complex, nucleus ambiguus, and thoracic sympathetic preganglionic cell column. Our data suggest that TNF alpha may serve as a neuromodulator in central pathways involved in the regulation of the autonomic, endocrine and behavioral components of the acute-phase response to inflammation and infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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