The role of TNF-α and TNF-β gene polymorphism in the pathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Hannan Al- Rayes, Misbahul Arfin, Mohammad Tariq, Abdulrahman Al-Asmari



Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic inflammatory disorder of unknown etiology that affects the synovial membrane of multiple joints. The clinical presentation of RA may vary from mild to severe with excessive erosions of periarticular bone leading to the loss of functional capacity. Both genetic and environmental factors are important in the development of this disorder. The genetic contribution to susceptibility for RA is underlined by a three

-to four-fold higher concordance percentage for clinically expressed disease in monozygotic twins compared to dizygotic twins. The severity and long term outcome of RA have also been related to various genetic factors. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a pro-inflammatory cytokine, is involved in the pathogenesis of a variety of autoimmune disorders, including RA. A large number of studies have been undertaken to determine the role of TNF-α promoter polymorphisms in the pathogenesis of RA. On the other hand few attempts have been made to identify the association between TNF-α (lymphotoxin-alfa) polymorphism and RA. In this narrative review of published literature, an attempt has been made to determine the association between TNF-α promoter polymorphisms at positions –308, –238, –489, –857, –863 and TNF-β at +252 with respect to susceptibility to and severity of RA, as well as response to drug therapy. In spite of intra-and inter-ethnic variations, analysis of data suggests a significant role of TNF-α/TNF-β polymorphisms in determining the susceptibility/severity of RA and responsiveness to anti-TNF drug therapy. The TNF gene polymorphisms may be an interesting target for novel strategies to prevent RA and/or in its early treatment. Further studies using larger samples are needed to pinpoint the regulatory polymorphisms or haplotypes and their effects on the development of certain manifestations in RA.


Tumor necrosis factor (TNF), Rheumatoid arthritis, Polymorphism, Saudi

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