Association between tumor necrosis factor-alpha and disease progression in patients with multiple sclerosis

The New England Journal of Medicine
M K Sharief, R Hentges


Cachectin, or tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), is a principal mediator of the inflammatory response and may be important in the pathogenesis and progression of multiple sclerosis, an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. In a 24-month prospective study, we used a sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to determine levels of TNF-alpha in cerebrospinal fluid and serum in 32 patients with chronic progressive multiple sclerosis and in 20 with stable multiple sclerosis and 85 with other neurologic diseases. An attempt was made to relate TNF-alpha levels with the degree of disability of the patients with multiple sclerosis and with their neurologic deterioration during the 24 months of observation. High levels of TNF-alpha were found in the cerebrospinal fluid of 53 percent of the patients with chronic progressive multiple sclerosis and in none of those with stable multiple sclerosis (P less than 0.001). TNF-alpha was detected in the cerebrospinal fluid of 7 percent of the controls (P less than 0.01) with other neurologic disease. In patients with chronic progressive multiple sclerosis, mean TNF-alpha levels were significantly higher in the cerebrospinal fluid than in corresponding serum samples (52.41 vs. ...Continue Reading


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