Increased production of tumor necrosis factor by normal immune cells in a model of the humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy

M. Sabatini, A. J. Yates, I. R. Garrett, J. Chavez, J. F. Dunn, L. Bonewald, G. R. Mundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The rat Leydig cell tumor is a well characterized model of the humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy. The studies reported here were provoked by the observation that tumor-bearing rats become extremely cachectic and develop hypertriglyceridemia as they become hypercalcemic. Since the bone resorbing cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF)/cachectin is associated with cachexia and hypertriglyceridemia, we examined hypercalcemic tumor-bearing rats for evidence of increased TNF production using a TNF radioimmunoassay. We found that immunoreactive TNF was increased in the plasma of tumor-bearing rats. The increase in plasma TNF was comparable to that previously shown in hypercalcemic nude mice bearing Chinese hamster ovarian cell tumors transfected with the human TNF gene. There was no detectable TNF activity in tumor culture media which suggested that the tumor itself was not the source of excess TNF production. However, we found that tumor cell conditioned media enhanced the production of TNF activity by normal macrophages in vitro, indicating that increased TNF production in vivo may result from a tumor factor(s) which stimulates TNF production by normal immune cells. When TNF was added together with tumor products to organ cultures of fetal rat long bones, osteoclastic bone resorption was potentiated. These data are consistent with the concept that in this model of the humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy, increased TNF production by normal immune cells is increased, has systemic effects as suggested by cachexia and hypertriglyceridemia, and may work in concert with factors produced directly by tumor cells to overwhelm normal calcium homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-682
Number of pages7
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1990


  • Cachexia
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Leydig cell tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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