Tumour necrosis factor, model

Tumour necrosis factor, model

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Credit: Kallista Images/Custom Medical Stock Photo/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), computer model. This protein generally exists as a trimer (a molecule consisting of 3 identical smaller molecules, seen here). It is released by white blood cells, mainly macrophages, during inflammatory immune responses, and acts as a signalling molecule. Its release is triggered by injury or bacterial endotoxins. One of its actions is to kill tumour cells, hence its name. TNF-alpha is also involved in a number of inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn's disease.

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