Pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha as a neuroprotective agent in the brain

Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2008;68(4):526-34.


Despite the numerous reports on the role of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in the brain neuropathology, very little is known about the mechanisms by which TNF-alpha may mediate neuroprotection. Different hypotheses pertain to the molecular and cellular effectors triggered by the activation of TNF receptors (TNFRI and TNFR2). They are focused on diminishing the production of nitric oxide and free radicals, alteration of excitatory amino acids neurotransmission, maintenance of neuronal calcium homeostasis and induction of neurotrophic factors synthesis. In this review all these data are summarized. Moreover, possible explanations for the inconsistent data concerning the TNF-alpha effect on neuron are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry / genetics
  • Brain Chemistry / physiology
  • Humans
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • NF-kappa B / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / genetics
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neuroprotective Agents*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / genetics
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / physiology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*


  • NF-kappa B
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha