Soluble TNF receptor production by activated T lymphocytes: Differential effects of acute and chronic exposure to TNF

A. P. Cope, D. Aderka, D. Wallach, M. Kahan, N. R. Chu, F. M. Brennan, M. Feldmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Soluble tumour necrosis factor receptors (sTNF-R) are up-regulated at sites of chronic inflammation such as rheumatoid synovial joints. The p75 sTNF-R is the more abundant, suggesting an important role for this TNF inhibitor in regulating TNF bioactivity in vivo. As the precise cellular source of these soluble receptors is not known, we investigated the production and regulation of sTNF-R by T lymphocytes, an abundant cell type in inflammatory infiltrates, which upon activation express high levels of p75 surface receptors. Using panels of T-cell lines and clones expressing high levels of p75 TNF-R, we found that p75 sTNF-R production upon stimulation is a feature common to all subsets of T cells, including cells of the CD4-CD8- double negative phenotype expressing either αβ or γδ T-cell receptors (TCR). In contrast, levels of p55 sTNF-R were only detected when T cells were stimulated at higher densities and by potent mitogens such as phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA). Detailed kinetic analyses revealed that the production of p75 sTNF-R was biphasic, the first phase was activation dependent, occurring in the absence of detectable TNF, while the second phase of p75 sTNF-R production was regulated by cytokines such as TNF. Unlike short-term exposure to TNF which enhances sTNF-R production in vitro and in vivo, prolonged exposure of T lymphocytes to TNF suppressed p75 sTNF-R (but not p55 sTNF-R) production in a dose- and time-dependent fashion. These results suggest that in patients with chronic inflammatory disease, which are exposed to augmented levels of bioactive TNF for prolonged periods, the production of p75 sTNF-R may be impaired.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


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