Efficacy and safety of monoclonal antibody to human tumor necrosis factor alpha in patients with sepsis syndrome. A randomized, controlled, double-blind, multicenter clinical trial. TNF-alpha MAb Sepsis Study Group

JAMA. 1995 Mar;273(12):934-41.


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha monoclonal antibody (TNF-alpha MAb) in the treatment of patients with sepsis syndrome.

Design: Randomized, prospective, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

Setting: A total of 31 hospitals in the United States and Canada.

Patients: There were 994 patients with sepsis syndrome enrolled in this clinical trial, and 971 patients were infused with the study drug.

Intervention: Patients were prospectively stratified into shock or nonshock groups and then randomized to receive a single infusion of 15 mg/kg of TNF-alpha MAb, 7.5 mg/kg of TNF-alpha MAb, or placebo. Patients received standard aggressive medical and surgical care during the 28-day postinfusion period.

Outcome measure: Twenty-eight-day all-cause mortality.

Results: The distribution of variables describing demographics, organ system dysfunction or failure, preinfusion Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score, number of organs failing at baseline, initial sites of infection, infecting microorganisms, antimicrobials used, and initial invasive procedures was similar among patients in the TNF-alpha MAb and placebo treatment arms. Among all infused patients, there was no difference in all-cause mortality in patients who received placebo as compared with those who received TNF-alpha MAb. In septic patients with shock (n = 478), there was a trend toward a reduction in all-cause mortality, which was most evident 3 days after infusion: 25 of 162 patients treated with 15 mg/kg of TNF-alpha MAb died, 22 of 156 patients treated with 7.5 mg/kg of TNF-alpha MAb died, and 44 of 160 patients in the placebo group died (15 mg/kg: 44% reduction vs placebo, P = .01; 7.5 mg/kg: 48.7% reduction vs placebo, P = .004). At day 28, the reduction in mortality for shock patients was not significant for either dose of TNF-alpha MAb relative to placebo (15 mg/kg, 61 deaths among 162 patients [37.7% mortality]; 7.5 mg/kg, 59 deaths among 156 patients [37.8% mortality]; placebo, 73 deaths among 160 patients [45.6% mortality]; P = .20 for 7.5 mg/kg and P = .15 for 15 mg/kg). Serious adverse events were reported in 4.6% of all infused patients. No immediate hypersensitivity allergic reactions due to TNF-alpha MAb were reported. Serum sickness-like reactions were seen in 2.5% of patients receiving TNF-alpha MAb.

Conclusions: There was no decrease in mortality between placebo and TNF-alpha MAb in all infused patients. In septic shock patients who received TNF-alpha MAb, a significant reduction in mortality was present 3 days after infusion. Although a trend toward reduced mortality continued at 28 days following treatment with TNF-alpha MAb, the difference in mortality among shock patients treated with placebo or TNF-alpha MAb was not significant.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Cause of Death
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Shock, Septic / mortality
  • Shock, Septic / physiopathology
  • Shock, Septic / therapy
  • Survival Analysis
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / mortality
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / therapy*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha