Evidence for a role of tumor necrosis factor alpha in disturbances of triglyceride and glucose metabolism predisposing to coronary heart disease

Metabolism. 1998 Jan;47(1):113-8. doi: 10.1016/s0026-0495(98)90203-7.


Elevated plasma levels of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, a decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol concentration, hyperinsulinemia, and impaired fibrinolytic function frequently aggregate in patients with premature coronary heart disease (CHD). Experimental studies suggest that the cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) produced by adipocytes plays a part in the regulation of triglyceride and glucose metabolism. The present study examined whether TNFalpha is implicated in these metabolic and fibrinolytic disturbances in young postinfarction patients. TNFalpha levels were determined in two groups of young (age <45 years) male postinfarction patients (n = 92 and 60) and in matched, population-based control subjects (n = 63). Plasma TNFalpha was higher in patients than in controls (4.1 +/- 1.6 v2.5 +/- 0.4 pg/mL, P < .0001). In hyperlipidemic patients, TNFalpha levels correlated significantly with the concentrations of very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) triglyceride and cholesterol and negatively with HDL cholesterol. Treatment with bezafibrate decreased VLDL triglycerides and increased HDL cholesterol, but did not affect TNFalpha levels. The TNFalpha concentration also correlated significantly with fasting glucose and proinsulin concentrations, as well as glucose and proinsulin levels after glucose ingestion. In contrast, no relations were found with the insulin level or degree of insulin resistance. The present results provide clinical evidence for a basic role of TNFalpha in hypertriglyceridemia, glucose intolerance, and the etiology of premature CHD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bezafibrate / pharmacology
  • Bezafibrate / therapeutic use
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Weight
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Coronary Artery Disease / metabolism
  • Coronary Disease / etiology*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / metabolism
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / metabolism
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipoproteins / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / metabolism
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Lipoproteins
  • Triglycerides
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Cholesterol
  • Glucose
  • Bezafibrate