TNF receptors in the microvascular pathology of acute respiratory distress syndrome and cerebral malaria

Rudolf Lucas, Jinning Lou, Denis R. Morel, Bara Ricou, Peter M. Suter, Georges E. Grau

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


The microvascular endothelial cell (MVEC) is a major target of inflammatory cytokines overproduced in conditions such as sepsis and infectious diseases. We addressed the direct and indirect effects of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) on endothelial cells that can be relevant for the pathogenesis of septic shock, with particular attention to the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and to cerebral malaria (CM). To identify functional and phenotypical changes occurring in MVEC during sepsis, we isolated these cells from the lungs of patients who died of ARDS. The constitutive expression of ICAM-1 and, to a lesser extent, VCAM-1, CD14, and TNFR2 were significantly increased on MVEC isolated from ARDS patients compared with control MVEC, whereas ELAM-1 and TNFR1 were not increased. We found that lung MVEC from ARDS patients present a procoagulant profile and a higher production capacity of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and IL-8 when compared with those from controls. As in pulmonary MVEC derived from ARDS patients, the only TNFR type found up-regulated in brain microvessels during CM was TNFR2. This increase in TNFR2 expression only occurred in CM-susceptible mice at the onset of the neurological syndrome. We therefore investigated the role of TNFR2 in the development of this brain pathology by comparing the incidence of CM in wild-type and TNF receptor knock-out mice. Unexpectedly, the genetic deficiency in TNFR2, but not in TNFR1, conferred protection against CM and its associated mortality. No ICAM-1 up-regulation was detected in the brain of Tnfr2°mice, indicating a close correlation between protection against CM-associated brain damage, absence of TNFR2, and absence of ICAM-1 up-regulation in the brain. Our results in ARDS and CM indicate a specific up-regulation of TNFR2, but not of TNFR1, on lung and brain MVEC, respectively. This increased expression leads to a reduced sensitivity toward TNFR1-mediated phenomena, such as the sensitized TNF cytolytic activity on lung MVEC. In contrast, the sensitivity toward TNFR2-mediated effects, such as ICAM-1 induction by membrane-bound TNF, is increased on brain and lung MVEC expressing increased levels of TNFR2. Therefore, the ICAM-1-inducing effect, rather than the direct cytotoxicity of inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF, appears to be crucial in ARDS and CM-induced endothelial damage, and TNFR2 seems to play an important role in this activity in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-558
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • ICAM-1
  • TNFR2
  • microvascular endothelial cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


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