The clinical relevance of circulating tumor necrosis factor-alpha in acute decompensated chronic heart failure without cachexia

Chest. 1996 Oct;110(4):992-5. doi: 10.1378/chest.110.4.992.


Study objective: To evaluate the clinical relevance of circulating tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha) in subjects with advanced acutely decompensated congestive heart failure (CHF) and to determine the modulatory effect of clinical interventions on short-term elaboration of this cytokine.

Design: Prospective, case-controlled study.

Setting: Inpatient and outpatient (hospital and clinic), at regional academic medical center. PATIENT INTERVENTIONS: Plasma concentrations of TNF alpha were determined in 25 healthy, normal control subjects and in 29 noncachectic patients with advanced CHF (mean ejection fraction = 16 +/- 6%) who required hospitalization for i.v. diuretic and/or inotropic therapy despite optimization of oral medical regimens. CHF patients were divided into two groups: diuretic responsive (group A; n = 6) and diuretic resistant requiring inotropic support (group B; n = 23). Group B was randomly allocated to receive either i.v. dobutamine (n = 13) or milrinone (n = 10) for 72 h. TNF alpha levels in CHF patients were measured serially at baseline, at 6 h, at 48 h, at 72 h, and at 1-week follow-up after hospital discharge.

Results: Plasma TNF alpha levels at baseline in CHF patients were 4.0 +/- 1.1 pg/mL (range, 0.5 to 6.5 pg/ mL) and 2.5 +/- 0.6 pg/mL (range, 0.5 to 6.8 pg/mL) in groups A and B, respectively, which were significantly different (p < 0.002) from normal subjects (0.89 +/- 0.40 pg/mL; range, 0.5 to 9.7 pg/mL). Despite clinically successful therapy with i.v. diuretics, dobutamine, or milrinone, plasma levels of this cytokine remained unchanged. Plasma TNF alpha in CHF patients measured in recovery (1 week after hospital discharge) was 5.1 +/- 1.2 pg/mL (range, 1.0 to 9.9 pg/mL) and 3.9 +/- 0.8 pg/mL (range, 0.5 to 8.7 pg/mL) in groups A and B, respectively.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that although noncachectic patients with chronic heart failure who suffer acute decompensation elaborate significantly higher circulating levels of TNF alpha compared with healthy control subjects, no significant reduction or alteration in circulating TNF alpha is noted in the short-term follow-up despite clinical improvement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cachexia
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / blood*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis*


  • Cytokines
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha