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Direct inhibition of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) action is considered a promising way to prevent or treat TNF-α-associated diseases. The trimeric form of TNF-α binds to its receptor (TNFR) and activates the downstream signaling pathway. The interaction of TNF-α with molecular-grade dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) in an equal volumetric ratio renders TNF-α inert, in this state, TNF-α fails to activate TNFR. Here, we aimed to examine the inhibition of TNF-α function by various concentrations of DMSO. Its higher concentration led to stronger attenuation of TNF-α-induced cytokine secretion by fibroblasts, and of their death. We found that this inhibition was mediated by a perturbation in the formation of the functional TNF-α trimer. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed a transient interaction between DMSO molecules and the central hydrophobic cavity of the TNF-α homodimer, indicating that a brief interaction of DMSO with the TNF-α homodimer may disrupt the formation of the functional homotrimer. We also found that the sensitizing effect of actinomycin D on TNF-α-induced cell death depends upon the timing of these treatments and on the cell type. This study will help to select an appropriate concentration of DMSO as a working solvent for the screening of water-insoluble TNF-α inhibitors.


Nasir Javaid, Mahesh Chandra Patra, Hana Seo, Farzana Yasmeen, Sangdun Choi. A Rational Insight into the Effect of Dimethyl Sulfoxide on TNF-α Activity. International journal of molecular sciences. 2020 Dec 11;21(24)

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PMID: 33322533

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