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Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 1079851, 13 pages
Research Article

TNF-α Autocrine Feedback Loops in Human Monocytes: The Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Roles of the TNF-α Receptors Support the Concept of Selective TNFR1 Blockade In Vivo

1Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK
2Lung Investigation Unit, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK

Received 7 May 2016; Revised 29 July 2016; Accepted 7 August 2016

Academic Editor: Senthamil Selvan

Copyright © 2016 Jennie M. Gane et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Selective TNFR1 blockade in inflammatory diseases is emerging as a clinical strategy. We studied the roles of the two TNF-α receptors, TNFR1 and TNFR2, in human monocytes, the principal producer of TNF-α and central to many TNF-α driven diseases. We hypothesised that TNF-α has pro- and anti-inflammatory effects on monocytes, occurring differentially via TNFR1 and TNFR2. Monocytes were isolated from healthy human subjects and exposed to LPS, plus/minus the addition of blocking antibodies to TNF-α or its receptors. Pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine production was quantified using real-time PCR and ELISAs. Cell surface expression of TNFR1/2 was measured by flow cytometry. We demonstrated that monocytes vary in the expression patterns of TNFR1 and TNFR2. Autocrine binding of TNF-α led to sustained upregulation of proinflammatory cytokines via TNFR1. In contrast, autocrine binding via TNFR2 upregulated the anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10, without proinflammatory effect. TNFR2 was responsible for binding soluble TNF-α secreted by monocytes, clearing the cytokine from the pericellular environment. TNFR1 blockade did not change the cell surface expression of TNFR2, leaving this receptor free to upregulate IL-10. These novel results support the concept of selective TNFR1 blockade in vivo in order that positive anti-inflammatory effects of TNF-α can be retained via TNFR2 ligation.