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BMC Immunol. 2013 Apr 2;14:17. doi: 10.1186/1471-2172-14-17.

Anti-tumor necrosis factor VNAR single domains reduce lethality and regulate underlying inflammatory response in a murine model of endotoxic shock.

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Department of Immunology, Instituto Nacional de Cardiología Ignacio Chávez, Mexico City, Mexico.



In sepsis, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is the key factor triggering respiratory burst, tissue injury and disseminated coagulation. Anti-TNF strategies based on monoclonal antibodies or F(ab')₂ fragments have been used in sepsis with contradictory results. Immunoglobulin new antigen receptors (IgNAR) are a unique subset of antibodies consisting of five constant (CNAR) and one variable domains (VNAR). VNAR domains are the smallest, naturally occurring, antibody-based immune recognition units, having potential use as therapy. Our aim was to explore the impact of an anti-TNF VNAR on survival in an experimental model of endotoxic shock. Also, mRNA expression and serum protein of several inflammatory molecules were measured.


Endotoxic shock was induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in male Balb/c mice. Animals were treated with anti-TNF VNAR domains, F(ab')₂ antibody fragments, or saline solution 15 minutes before, 2 h and 24 h after lethal dose₁₀₀ (LD₁₀₀) LPS administration. TNF blockade with either VNAR domains or F(ab')₂ fragments were associated with lower mortality (60% and 75%, respectively) compared to LD₁₀₀. Challenge with LPS induced significant production of serum TNF and interleukins -10 and -6 at 3 h. After that, significant reduction of IL-6 at 24 h (vs 3 h) was shown only in the VNAR group. Nitrites level also increased in response to LPS. In liver, TNF and IL-10 mRNA expression showed a pro-inflammatory imbalance in response to LPS. Blocking TNF was associated with a shift towards an anti-inflammatory status; however, polarization was more pronounced in animals receiving F(ab')₂ fragments than in those with VNAR therapy. With regard to IL-6, gene expression was increased at 3 h in all groups. TNF blockade was associated with rapid and sustained suppression of IL-6 expression, even more evident in the VNAR group. Finally, expression of inducible-nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) increased in response to LPS at 3 h, but this was decreased at 24 h only in the anti-TNF VNAR group.


Anti-TNF VNAR single domains improved survival in a murine model of endotoxic shock. Protection was associated with regulation in the TNF/IL-10 balance, attenuation of IL-6 and iNOS gene expression in the liver as well as decreased serum IL-6 concentration.

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