Tumour necrosis factor-alpha induces morphological and functional alterations of intestinal HT29 cl.19A cell monolayers

Cytokine. 1995 Jul;7(5):441-8. doi: 10.1006/cyto.1995.0060.


TNF-alpha is a widely distributed proinflammatory cytokine, involved in many disease states. Although it has widely distributed effects, a precise mechanism of action has never been described, in particular at the epithelial level. Morpho-functional changes of the intestinal epithelial monolayer HT29 cl.19A exposed to TNF-alpha were therefore assessed, using electron microscopy (including freeze-fracture replica analysis), as well as measurement of mannitol, Na+ and horseradish peroxidase fluxes across intestinal HT29 cl.19A cell monolayers using Ussing chambers. TNF-alpha receptors were induced on HT29 cl.19A cells by a small non-toxic dose of IFN-gamma (5 U/ml). After 4 h of the combined presence of TNF-alpha (10 ng/ml) and IFN-gamma (5 U/ml), the tight junction structure was altered as shown by a significant decrease in the average strand number measured in the apico-basal direction (5.50 +/- 2.70 vs 3.73 +/- 1.39 in control and treated cells respectively, P < 0.0001) and by a significant decrease in junctional depth (0.27 +/- 0.14 and 0.17 +/- 0.10 microns in control and treated cells respectively, P < 0.0001). These results are in agreement with a decrease in number of 'kiss' sites between contiguous membranes of TNF-alpha treated cells observed in ultrathin sections.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Tight Junctions / drug effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha