International archives of allergy and applied immunology

Tumor necrosis factor alters cytoskeletal organization and barrier function of endothelial cells.

PMID 1752699


Treatment of human umbilical cord vein endothelial cells with tumor necrosis factor results in marked changes in cell shape and cytoskeletal organization. After 4 h of treatment, these cells loose reciprocal contacts with the formation of intercellular gaps. This retraction reaches a maximum after 6 h when most stress fibers staining for F-actin disappear and vinculin becomes diffused in the cytoplasm. Such changes spontaneously reverse after 24 h in the presence of tumor necrosis factor or after 2 h of incubation in fresh medium. After treatment with tumor necrosis factor, endothelial monolayers become permeable to albumin because of gaps that form between cells. Normal human serum, plasma alpha 1-proteinase inhibitor and an anti-inflammatory peptide that decrease synthesis of platelet-activating factor inhibit the changes induced by tumor necrosis factor. Furthermore, receptor antagonists of platelet-activating factor have the same effect. These findings suggest that platelet-activating factor is a secondary mediator responsible for the changes in cell shape and cytoskeletal organization, and for the leakiness of endothelial monolayers.