Human macrophage tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha production induced by Trypanosoma brucei gambiense and the role of TNF-alpha in parasite control

J Infect Dis. 2001 Mar 15;183(6):988-91. doi: 10.1086/319257. Epub 2001 Feb 9.


Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, a causative agent of sleeping sickness, induced a dose-dependent production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha by human macrophages in vitro. TNF-alpha was also induced in the Mono Mac 6 cell line, which indicates a direct effect of parasite components on macrophages. Parasite-soluble factors were also potent inducers of TNF-alpha. The addition of anti-TNF-alpha to cocultures of macrophages and parasites increased the number of trypanosomes and their life span, whereas irrelevant antibodies had no effect. TNF-alpha may have a direct role (i.e., direct trypanolytic activity) and/or an indirect one, such as TNF-alpha-mediated induction of cytotoxic molecules. A direct dose-dependent lytic effect of TNF-alpha on purified parasites was observed. This lytic effect was inhibited by anti-TNF-alpha. These data suggest that, as in experimental trypanosomiasis, TNF-alpha is involved in parasite growth control in human African trypanosomiasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Protozoan / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytotoxicity Tests, Immunologic
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Trypanosoma brucei gambiense / drug effects
  • Trypanosoma brucei gambiense / growth & development
  • Trypanosoma brucei gambiense / immunology*
  • Trypanosomiasis, African / immunology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology*


  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha