Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a major mediator of apoptosis as well as inflammation and immunity, and it has been implicated in the pathogenesis of a wide spectrum of human diseases, including sepsis, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Many of the TNF-induced cellular responses are mediated by either one of the two TNF receptors, TNF-R1 and TNF-R2, both of which belong to the TNF receptor super-family. In response to TNF treatment, the transcription factor NF-κB and MAP kinases, including ERK, p38 and JNK, are activated in most types of cells and, in some cases, apoptosis or necrosis could also be induced. However, induction of apoptosis or necrosis is mainly achieved through TNFR1, which is also known as a death receptor. Activation of the NF-κB and MAPKs plays an important role in the induction of many cytokines and immune-regulatory proteins and is pivotal for many inflammatory responses.
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