The American journal of pathology

Tumor necrosis factor gene expression in human vascular intimal smooth muscle cells detected by in situ hybridization.

PMID 1698022


We used immunohistochemistry to detect tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and in situ hybridization to detect TNF messenger RNA (mRNA) in the intimal mesenchymal-appearing cells and in the medial smooth muscle cells of human atherosclerotic arteries. Medial smooth muscle cells showed localization of immunoreactive TNF on the cell surface and did not express TNF mRNA. Conversely, in intimal mesenchymal-appearing cells, TNF was localized in the cytoplasm and TNF mRNA was expressed by in situ hybridization. Thus 89% of intimal cells were immunohistochemically positive for TNF, 96% of them were positive by in situ hybridization, and 76% were positive for the smooth muscle cell marker, HHF35. Our results suggest that intimal mesenchymal-appearing cells are mostly, but not exclusively, derived from smooth muscle cells. These cells express TNF, whereas the medial smooth muscle cells in the atherosclerotic human arteries do not. The expression of TNF by these mesenchymal-appearing cells may have implications regarding the evolution of the atherosclerotic plaque.