Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Biomedical Sciences

Date of Award

May 1998


Tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) is a pleiotropic cytokine that is predominantly produced by activated macrophages. The effects of TNFα are as diverse as the cells with which it interacts, e.g., stimulating fibroblast growth, exerting cytotoxic/cytostatic; activity against various human and murine cell lines, promoting inflammation through upregulation of endothelial adhesion molecules and IL-8 production. Yet TNFα is best known, and in fact was originally described, for its role in the bacterial-induced hemorrhagic necrosis of tumors and exacerbation of septic shock in which aberrant TNFα production leads to vascular collapse, cachexia, multiple organ failure, and ultimately death in as many as 100,000 people each year in the United States alone. LPS, a component of the outer cell wall of gram-negative bacteria, is the principal inducer of macrophage TNFα production. TNFα production can be enhanced by IFNγ which also induces upregulation of TNFα receptors allowing for the establishment of a TNFα autocrine loop. It has been hypothesized that autocrine TNFα stimulation plays a critical role in the induction of macrophage effector function, e.g., nitric oxide production. This dissertation represents efforts to evaluate the respective roles of the TNFα receptors in the induction of macrophage effector function, in addition to examining the mechanism by which autocrine TNFα exerts its effects on macrophages. Exploiting the species specificity of the murine TNFα receptor type 2 (TNF-R2), splenic macrophages were stimulated with human TNFα (which binds to TNF-R1 but not TNF-R2), in the presence of IFNγ. Human TNFα was effective in the induction of nitric oxide production, albeit at concentrations 12.5-fold greater than those required by murine TNFα to achieve the same result. Addition of anti-TNF-R1 completely inhibited the murine TNFα mediated induction of macrophage effector function. However, treatment with anti-TNF-R2 resulted in partial inhibition of macrophage activation. Taken together this data suggests that the primary TNFα mediated signals involved in macrophage activation are transduced through TNF-R1, although TNF-R2 appears to contribute to the intensity of the macrophage response. To evaluate the role of autocrine TNFα signaling in the induction of macrophage effector function, immortalized macrophages from normal C57Bl/6J mice (B6/J2) and C57Bl/6J mice containing gene targeted disruptions of the TNF-R1 and TNF-R2 genes (TRN) were stimulated under CD14-dependent and CD14-independent conditions. Although the B6/J2 and TRN clones mounted similar NO responses to LPS in the presence of serum, the TRN macrophages generated a weak nitric oxide response as compared to B6/J2 when stimulated with LPS under serum-free conditions. The involvement of TNFα autocrine stimulation in the CD14-independent activation was corroborated by the ability of soluble TNF-R1 to inhibit the response of B6/J2 macrophages to LPS in serum-free medium. CD14-independent LPS stimulation of TRN and B6/J2 resulted in equivalent levels of IL-1β, TNFα, and NOS gene expression, as determined by RT-PCR, and in release of equivalent amounts of biologically active TNFα. However, western blot analysis revealed that NOS protein production by TRN was as much as 50% less than that produced by B6/J2. These results indicate that autocrine TNFα stimulation contributes to the signaling pathways initiated by ligation of CD14-independent LPS receptors and may be involved in NOS post-transcriptional regulation.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted