Tumor necrosis factor activities and cancer therapy--a perspective

Pharmacol Ther. 1993 Jan;57(1):79-128. doi: 10.1016/0163-7258(93)90037-e.


Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a multifunctional cytokine which has excited and fascinated numerous investigators and commercial entities due to its promise as a therapeutic agent against cancer and as a target for drugs treating septic shock. TNF is a protein having cytotoxic, cytostatic, immunomodulatory as well as several other activities and is also involved in septic shock. This review covers the structure of TNF and its receptors, various in vitro activities and in vivo activities based on studies in animal model systems. The role of TNF as an anticancer therapeutic agent, based on various phase I and phase II clinical studies, has also been considered. The review concludes with several considerations for increasing the therapeutic utility of TNF in terms of targeting, toxicity and half-life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / immunology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha