Full name: Tumor necrosis factor

Aliases:1,2 DIF, TNFA, TNFSF2, TNLG1F, and TNF-α

Size:1,3 26 kDa membrane-bound form; 17 kDa soluble form

Family:4 TNF family (TNF-α, TNF-β, CD40 ligand, Fas ligand, TRAIL, and LIGHT)

Receptors:1 TNFR1 and TNFR2

Major cellular sources:1 Activated macrophages, monocytes, CD4+ T cells, B cells, neutrophils, NK, and mast cells

Major cellular targets:1 Nucleated cells

Disease states associated with:1 Psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, and allergic diseases (asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis)

Major physiologic functions:

  • TNF is a pleiotropic cytokine involved in host defense, tumor lysis, apoptosis, and inflammation.1,4

  • TNF has two roles in the regulation of immune responses: as a pro-inflammatory mediator, initiating a strong inflammatory response, and as an immunosuppressive mediator, inhibiting the development of autoimmune diseases and tumorigenesis and limiting the extent and duration of inflammatory processes.1

  • TNF stimulates a cascade of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, integrins, and adhesion molecules to attract leukocytes to the sites of inflammation.5,6

  • TNF promotes angiogenesis and contributes to bone erosion.5,7

CD: cluster of differentiation; DIF: Dorsal-related immunity factor; LIGHT: homologous to lymphotoxins, exhibits inducible expression, and competes with herpes simplex virus (HSV) glycoprotein D for herpesvirus entry mediator (HVEM), a receptor expressed by T lymphocytes; NK: natural killer; TNFR: TNF receptor; TNFSF: TNF superfamily; TNLG1F: tumor necrosis factor ligand 1F; TRAIL: TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand.


  • 1.

    Akdis M, Aab A, Altunbulakli C, et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016;138:984-1010.

  • 2.

    NCBI. Gene. TNF tumor necrosis factor [Homo sapiens (human)]. Accessed March 11, 2021.

  • 3.

    Kriegler M, Perez C, DeFay K, Albert I, Lu SD. Cell. 1988;53:45-53.

  • 4.

    Chu W-M. Cancer Lett. 2013;28;328:222-225.

  • 5.

    Brennan FM, McInnes IB. J Clin Invest. 2008;118:3537‐3545.

  • 6.

    Stohl W. Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2013;9:705-720.

  • 7.

    Shu Q, Amin MA, Ruth JH, Campbell PL, Koch AE. Arthritis Res Ther. 2012;14:R88.