Tumor necrosis factor-alpha and muscle wasting: a cellular perspective

Respir Res. 2001;2(5):269-72. doi: 10.1186/rr67. Epub 2001 Jul 12.


Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is a polypeptide cytokine that has been associated with muscle wasting and weakness in inflammatory disease. Despite its potential importance in muscle pathology, the direct effects of TNF-alpha on skeletal muscle have remained undefined until recently. Studies of cultured muscle cells indicate that TNF-alpha disrupts the differentiation process and can promote catabolism in mature cells. The latter response appears to be mediated by reactive oxygen species and nuclear factor-kappaB which upregulate ubiquitin/proteasome activity. This commentary outlines our current understanding of TNF-alpha effects on skeletal muscle and the mechanism of TNF-alpha action.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscle Weakness / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology*
  • Wasting Syndrome / metabolism
  • Wasting Syndrome / pathology*


  • Muscle Proteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha