TNF-α is an essential component of the innate defence mechanism of the host against pathogenic challenge. Unfortunately, it can also play a major role in the pathology of certain diseases, such as tuberculosis. This disease is a striking example of the role of TNF-α as a ‘double-edged sword’, because apart from its role in controlling the Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, it can also cause severe tissue damage. TNF-α exhibits a very complex network of interactions and many of its activities are still not fully understood. This report aims to review the pivotal role of TNF-α in controlling the mycobacterial infection, with a particular emphasis on its influence on chemokine expression and cell movement during granuloma formation, and the issues surrounding the use of TNF-α inhibitors for therapeutic use in inflammatory diseases.
Keywords: TNF-α, tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, granuloma, macrophage
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