Recombinant tumor necrosis factor alpha does not inhibit the growth of African trypanosomes in axenic cultures.
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Mice whose tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) genes were disrupted developed higher levels of parasitemia than wild-type mice following infection with Trypanosoma congolense IL1180 or T. brucei brucei GUTat3.1, confirming the results of earlier studies. To determine whether TNF-alpha directly affects the growth of these and other bloodstream forms of African trypanosomes, we studied the effects of recombinant mouse, human, and bovine TNF-alpha on the growth of two isolates of T. congolense, IL1180 and IL3338, and two isolates of T. brucei brucei, GUTat3.1 and ILTat1.1, under axenic culture conditions. The preparations of recombinant TNF-alpha used were biologically active as determined by their capacity to kill L929 cells. Of five recombinant TNF-alpha lots tested, one lot of mouse TNF-alpha inhibited the growth of both isolates of T. brucei brucei and one lot of bovine TNF-alpha inhibited the growth of T. brucei brucei ILTat1.1 but only at very high concentrations and without causing detectable killing of the parasites. The other lots of mouse recombinant TNF-alpha, as well as human TNF-alpha, did not affect the growth of any of the test trypanosomes even at maximal concentrations that could be attained in the culture systems (3,000 to 15,000 U of TNF-alpha/ml of medium). These results suggest that exogenously added recombinant TNF-alpha generally does not inhibit the growth of African trypanosomes under the culture conditions we used. The impact of TNF-alpha on trypanosome parasitemia may be indirect, at least with respect to the four strains of trypanosomes reported here.
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