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What is tumor necrosis factor?

Tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha), a member of a protein family called cytokines, can be your ally or your enemy. They are manufactured by your white blood cells. They help to fight injury and infection through your immune system.

In doing so, however, TNF-alpha causes inflammation, which is not good for the heart.

A study by Ohio State University found that people with depression tend to have higher levels of TNF-alpha. Researchers are unsure, however, whether depression causes inflammation that leads to heart failure or if heart failure causes the depression , which then leads to the inflammation.

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
When the immune cells attack "self" cells, autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can develop, triggering inflammation and destruction of tissues. One of the chemical messengers involved in inflammation is tumor necrosis factor (TNF). TNF binds to normal joint tissues and increases inflammation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.