Tumor necrosis factor-driven cell death in donor organ as a barrier to immunological tolerance

Rosalind L. Ang, Adrian T. Ting

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose of reviewRegulated cell death (RCD) is likely to play a role in organ rejection but it is unclear how it may be invoked. A well-known trigger of regulated cell death is tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF), which activates both caspase-dependent apoptosis and caspase-independent necroptosis. TNF is best known as a pro-inflammatory cytokine because it activates NFκB and MAPK signaling to induce expression of pro-inflammatory genes.Recent findingsEmerging data from animal models now suggest that TNF-induced cell death can also be inflammatory. Therefore, the role of cellular demise in regulating immunity should be considered. In transplantation, TNF could have a role in cellular injury or death from ischemia reperfusion (IR) injury and this may dictate organ survival. The default response to TNF in most cells is survival, rather than death, because of the presence of cell death checkpoints. However, cells succumb to TNF-driven death when these checkpoints are disrupted, and sensitivity to death likely reflects a reduction in molecules that fortify these checkpoints. We propose that a cell's propensity to die in response to TNF may underlie allograft rejection.SummaryGenetic, epigenetic, and posttranslational control of death checkpoint regulators in donor tissues may determine graft survival. Therapeutically, drugs that prevent donor cell demise could be useful in preventing organ rejection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-19
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent opinion in organ transplantation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • E3 ligase
  • apoptosis
  • cell death
  • checkpoint
  • deubiquitinase
  • necroptosis
  • tumor necrosis factor
  • ubiquitin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Transplantation


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