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Keywords:

  • cachexia;
  • fever;
  • acute-phase response;
  • central autonomic regulation;
  • hypothalamus;
  • immunohistochemistry

Abstract

Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) is a protein released from macrophages during infection and inflammation. Recent studies suggest that it has several effects within the central nervous system, including generation of fever, enhancement of slow wave sleep, and stimulation of pituitary hormone secretion. We have proposed that TNFα may be synthesized by neurons in the CNS and used as a neuromodulator in the pathways involved in the central control of these activities. To test this hypothesis, we have used an antiserum raised against recombinant murine (rm) TNFα with an indirect immunoperoxidase technique to stain the murine CNS immunohistochemically. Western blot analysis of mouse brain homogenates revealed one band with electrophoretic mobility identical to that of rmTNFα. We identified TNFα-like immunoreactive (ir) neurons in the hypothalamus, in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, in the caudal raphe nuclei, and along the ventral pontine and medullary surface. TNFαir innervation was widespread within the CNS, particularly in areas involved in autonomic and endocrine regulation, including the hypothalamus, amygdala, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, parabrachial nucleus, dorsal vagal complex, nucleus ambiguus, and thoracic sympathetic preganglionic cell column. Our data suggest that TNFα may serve as a neuromodulator in central pathways involved in the regulation of the autonomic, endocrine and behavioral components of the acute-phase response to inflammation and infection. © 1993 Wiley-Liss,Inc.