Evidence that tumor necrosis factor plays a pathogenetic role in the paraneoplastic syndromes of cachexia, hypercalcemia, and leukocytosis in a human tumor in nude mice

Toshiyuki Yoneda, Maria A. Alsina, Jeffery B. Chavez, Lynda Bonewald, Riko Nishimura, Gregory R. Mundy

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108 Scopus citations


Recently, we have established a human squamous cell carcinoma of the maxilla (called MH-85) associated with hypercalcemia, leukocytosis, and cachexia in culture. MH-85 tumor cells caused the same paraneoplastic syndromes in tumor-bearing nude mice. We found that there was a sixfold increase in splenic size in MH-85 tumor-bearing mice. This increase paralleled tumor growth and was reversed by surgical removal of the tumor. Splenectomy in nude mice 1 wk before or 6 wk after tumor inoculation resulted in a decrease in tumor growth, and impairment of hypercalcemia, leukocytosis, and cachexia. In MH-85 tumor-bearing animals that had been pretreated by splenectomy, intravenous injection of fresh normal spleen cells caused an immediate reversal of leukocytosis, hypercalcemia, and cachexia. Since the presence of cachexia in both the patient and the mice carrying the tumor suggested tumor necrosis factor (TNF) may be overproduced, we injected polyclonal neutralizing antibodies raised against murine TNF into tumor-bearing mice. There was a rapid and reproducible decrease in blood ionized calcium, accompanied by suppression of osteoclast activity. No changes in blood ionized calcium were seen in mice injected with normal immune sera. In addition, there was an increase in body weight and decrease in white cell count. Plasma immunoreactive TNF was increased almost fourfold in tumor-bearing nude mice compared with control nude mice. Although TNF activity was undetectable in MH-85 culture supernatants, cells of the macrophage lineage, including spleen cells, released increased amounts of TNF when cultured with MH-85 tumor-conditioned media. These results suggest that splenic cytokines such as TNF may influence the development of the paraneoplastic syndromes of hypercalcemia, leukocytosis, and cachexia in these animals, as well as tumor growth. They also show that paraneoplastic syndromes may be due to factors produced by normal host cells stimulated by the presence of the tumor. squa-.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)977-985
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991
Externally publishedYes



  • Bone resorption
  • Cytokines
  • Host immune cells
  • Mous cell carcinoma
  • Splenomegaly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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