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      Serum Levels of the Inflammatory Cytokines in Patients with Lumbar Radicular Pain Due to Disc Herniation

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          Study Design

          Cohort study.


          This study primarily aimed to evaluate the serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin (IL)-4 in patients with lumbar radiculopathy 1 and 12 months after microdiscectomy.

          Overview of Literature

          Lumbar radiculopathy is possibly caused by inflammatory changes in the nerve root. The intraneural application of pro-inflammatory cytokines induces behavioral signs associated with pain. Anti-inflammatory cytokine treatment effectively reduces hyperalgesia.


          The role of TNF-α and IL-4 in long-lasting lumbar radiculopathy was addressed. A total of 262 patients were recruited from Anqing Hospital, Anhui Medical University. During inclusion at 1 and 12 months, serum concentrations of TNF-α and IL-4 were analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and pain intensity was reported on a 0–10 cm visual analog scale (VAS).


          Sixty six patients had VAS <3 and 196 patients had VAS ≥3. Serum concentrations of pro-inflammatory TNF-α and anti-inflammatory IL-4 in patients with lumbar radiculopathy related to disc herniation were measured at 1- and 12-month follow-up. TNF-α decreased in both VAS groups with time. In contrast, IL-4 increased in both groups at 1 month and then decreased gradually until month 12. The changes in serum levels of TNF-α and IL-4 over time between the VAS ≥3 and VAS <3 groups were significantly different.


          Chronic lumbar radiculopathy may be associated with high level of pro-inflammatory substances, such as TNF-α, in serum after disc herniation, and elevated anti-inflammatory cytokine in patients with lumbar radiculopathy may indicate a favorable outcome.

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          Most cited references 18

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          TNF signaling inhibition in the CNS: implications for normal brain function and neurodegenerative disease

          The role of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) as an immune mediator has long been appreciated but its function in the brain is still unclear. TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1) is expressed in most cell types, and can be activated by binding of either soluble TNF (solTNF) or transmembrane TNF (tmTNF), with a preference for solTNF; whereas TNFR2 is expressed primarily by microglia and endothelial cells and is preferentially activated by tmTNF. Elevation of solTNF is a hallmark of acute and chronic neuroinflammation as well as a number of neurodegenerative conditions including ischemic stroke, Alzheimer's (AD), Parkinson's (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and multiple sclerosis (MS). The presence of this potent inflammatory factor at sites of injury implicates it as a mediator of neuronal damage and disease pathogenesis, making TNF an attractive target for therapeutic development to treat acute and chronic neurodegenerative conditions. However, new and old observations from animal models and clinical trials reviewed here suggest solTNF and tmTNF exert different functions under normal and pathological conditions in the CNS. A potential role for TNF in synaptic scaling and hippocampal neurogenesis demonstrated by recent studies suggest additional in-depth mechanistic studies are warranted to delineate the distinct functions of the two TNF ligands in different parts of the brain prior to large-scale development of anti-TNF therapies in the CNS. If inactivation of TNF-dependent inflammation in the brain is warranted by additional pre-clinical studies, selective targeting of TNFR1-mediated signaling while sparing TNFR2 activation may lessen adverse effects of anti-TNF therapies in the CNS.
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            Anti-inflammatory cytokines.

             V DePalo,  S Opal (2000)
            The anti-inflammatory cytokines are a series of immunoregulatory molecules that control the proinflammatory cytokine response. Cytokines act in concert with specific cytokine inhibitors and soluble cytokine receptors to regulate the human immune response. Their physiologic role in inflammation and pathologic role in systemic inflammatory states are increasingly recognized. Major anti-inflammatory cytokines include interleukin (IL)-1 receptor antagonist, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-11, and IL-13. Specific cytokine receptors for IL-1, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and IL-18 also function as proinflammatory cytokine inhibitors. The nature of anti-inflammatory cytokines and soluble cytokine receptors is the focus of this review. The current and future therapeutic uses of these anti-inflammatory cytokines are also reviewed.
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              Proinflammatory cytokine expression profile in degenerated and herniated human intervertebral disc tissues.

              Prior reports document macrophage and lymphocyte infiltration with proinflammatory cytokine expression in pathologic intervertebral disc (IVD) tissues. Nevertheless, the role of the Th17 lymphocyte lineage in mediating disc disease remains uninvestigated. We undertook this study to evaluate the immunophenotype of pathologic IVD specimens, including interleukin-17 (IL-17) expression, from surgically obtained IVD tissue and from nondegenerated autopsy control tissue. Surgical IVD tissues were procured from patients with degenerative disc disease (n = 25) or herniated IVDs (n = 12); nondegenerated autopsy control tissue was also obtained (n = 8) from the anulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus regions. Immunohistochemistry was performed for cell surface antigens (CD68 for macrophages, CD4 for lymphocytes) and various cytokines, with differences in cellularity and target immunoreactivity scores analyzed between surgical tissue groups and between autopsy control tissue regions. Immunoreactivity for IL-4, IL-6, IL-12, and interferon-gamma (IFNgamma) was modest in surgical IVD tissue, although expression was higher in herniated IVD samples and virtually nonexistent in control samples. The Th17 lymphocyte product IL-17 was present in >70% of surgical tissue fields, and among control samples was detected rarely in anulus fibrosus regions and modestly in nucleus pulposus regions. Macrophages were prevalent in surgical tissues, particularly herniated IVD samples, and lymphocytes were expectedly scarce. Control tissue revealed lesser infiltration by macrophages and a near absence of lymphocytes. Greater IFNgamma positivity, macrophage presence, and cellularity in herniated IVDs suggests a pattern of Th1 lymphocyte activation in this pathology. Remarkable pathologic IVD tissue expression of IL-17 is a novel finding that contrasts markedly with low levels of IL-17 in autopsy control tissue. These findings suggest involvement of Th17 lymphocytes in the pathomechanism of disc degeneration.

                Author and article information

                Asian Spine J
                Asian Spine J
                Asian Spine Journal
                Korean Society of Spine Surgery
                October 2016
                17 October 2016
                : 10
                : 5
                : 843-849
                [1 ]Department of Orthopaedics, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China.
                [2 ]Department of Orthopaedics, Anqing Hospital, Anhui Medical University, Anqing, China.
                [3 ]Department of Orthopaedics, The First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China.
                Author notes
                Corresponding author: Zong-Sheng Yin. Department of Orthopaedics, The First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, 218 Jixi Road, Hefei, Anhui 230022, China. Tel: +86-139-5697-7198, Fax:+86-551-343-2123, yinzongsheng@ 123456sina.com
                Copyright © 2016 by Korean Society of Spine Surgery

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Funded by: National Natural Science Foundation of China, CrossRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100001809;
                Award ID: 81171173
                Basic Study


                interleukins, tumor necrosis factor-α, pain, cytokines


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