Holding Back the RA Hurt

Tumor necrosis factor helps fight rheumatoid arthritis inflamation

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) In the constant search for new ways to fight disease, help can be found in unexpected places. What causes a disease could also be what helps to fight off that same disease.

Reasearchers have found a certain protein that causes inflammation in diseases like rheumatoid arthritis can also stop inflammation. This finding could lead to new ways for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

"Ask your doctor about new rheumatoid arthritis treatments."

Looking at past studies, researchers found hints that tumor necrosis factor (TNF) - a protein that plays a part in inflammation - may also hold back inflammation. This is this first time someone has found how TNF can fight inflammation, says Lionel Ivashkiv, M.D., from the Hospital for Special Surgery and leader of the study.

For their study, the researchers wanted to see if certain white blood cells treated with TNF would have an inflammatory response to lipopolysaccharide, a molecule that encourages inflammation.

The researchers found that, in a test tube setting, TNF kept the white blood cells from having an inflammatory response.

Ivashkiv and colleagues then ran tests on mice. They gave mice small amounts of TNF and then gave them large amounts of LPS. The TNF protected the mice from the deadly effects of the high doses of LPS.

TNF is known to trigger inflammation. However, Ivashkiv says, this study shows that TNF can actually suppress the white blood cells that are responsible for making it. Basically, TNF can regulate its own production.

With more research, this finding could lead to new ways to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

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Review Date: 
May 23, 2011
Last Updated:
June 8, 2011