Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) is implicated in a wide variety of pathological and physiological processes, including chronic inflammatory conditions, coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity, and cachexia. Transgenic mice expressing human TNFα (hTNFα) have previously been described as a model for progressive rheumatoid arthritis. In this report, we describe extensive characterization of an hTNFα transgenic mouse line.
In addition to arthritis, these hTNFα transgenic mice demonstrated major alterations in body composition, metabolic rate, leptin levels, response to a high-fat diet, bone mineral density and content, impaired fertility and male sexual function. Many phenotypes displayed an earlier onset and a higher degree of severity in males, pointing towards a significant degree of sexual dimorphism in response to deregulated expression of TNFα.
These results highlight the potential usefulness of this transgenic model as a resource for studying the progressive effects of constitutively expressed low levels of circulating TNFα, a condition mimicking that observed in a number of human pathological conditions.