Tumor bearing hosts and animals treated with endotoxin commonly show a decrease in the catalase activity of the liver and kidney. Since tumor necrosis factor (TNF)/cachectin may play a significant role in these conditions, we investigated its effects on the catalatic and peroxidatic activity of catalase in the liver and kidney of the rat. The activities of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and lactate dehydrogenase were measured simultaneously to monitor the pentose phosphate and glycolytic pathways, respectively.

Injection i.p. of 100 µg/kg/day human recombinant TNF-α for 5 days resulted in a significant (P < 0.01) decrease in the catalatic activity of the liver when compared to rats fed ad libitum. The decrease in four experiments ranged from 21 to 56%. A significant decrease (18%; P = 0.01) in liver catalatic and peroxidatic activity was also observed in another experiment using pair fed rats as controls. The peroxidatic activity of catalase with ethanol as hydrogen donor closely paralleled the catalatic activity. TNF treatment had no detectable effect on the catalatic or peroxidatic activity of catalase in the kidney. The activity of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase increased (31–80%) significantly (P ≤ 0.02) in the liver and, to a lesser extent, in the kidney (5–27%, P = 0.05). Lactate dehydrogenase activity decreased (14–19%) significantly (P <- 0.05) in the liver and kidney but mainly in rats treated with TNF and additionally fasted for 24 h.

Electron microscopic examination of liver sections showed that the hepatocytes of TNF-treated rats were undamaged but contained fewer and smaller peroxisomes than those of the control rats.


Supported by the Heintz F. Hutter Leukemia Research Fund of the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation.

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