In vivo hematopoietic effects of tumor necrosis factor-alpha in normal and erythroleukemic mice: characterization and therapeutic applications

CS Johnson, MJ Chang and P Furmanski


The effects of recombinant, macrophage-derived, murine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) on hematopoiesis in vivo has been examined in normal mice and in Friend virus (FV)-induced erythroleukemic mice. Intravenous (IV) administration of a single dose of recombinant murine TNF-alpha (10(5) U per mouse) significantly suppressed normal and leukemic late-stage erythropoiesis as measured by numbers of mature erythroid colony forming cells (CFU-E) in the bone marrow and spleen and by peripheral blood reticulocyte counts. In normal animals, the immature erythroid (BFU-E), macrophage (CFU-M), and granulocyte- macrophage (CFU-GM) compartments were significantly stimulated by TNF- alpha in both the bone marrow and the spleen. In the bone marrow of leukemic mice, the BFU-E, CFU-GM, and CFU-M progenitor cell compartments were also stimulated by treatment with the monokine. In the spleens of leukemic mice (the primary site of FV leukemia cell accumulation), relative numbers of BFU-E and CFU-GM were increased by TNF-alpha, while those of CFU-M were suppressed. TNF-alpha caused a rapid decrease in the markedly elevated spleen weights of progressively leukemic mice, and in multiple doses it caused complete clinical disease regression in a significant percentage of leukemic animals. The combination of TNF-alpha with interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) increased the incidence of leukemia regression, compared with TNF-alpha alone. These results show that TNF-alpha exerts a suppressive influence on late-stage erythropoiesis in vivo and suggest that this effect might be exploited in the treatment of acute erythroleukemia, erythroid hyperplasias, and related diseases.