Interleukin 10 (IL-10) has been shown to inhibit endotoxin-induced tumor necrosis factor (TNF) production. To assess the role of TNF in the induction of IL-10 in endotoxemia, four healthy men were studied after a bolus intravenous injection of recombinant human TNF (50 micrograms/m2). In addition, 13 healthy chimpanzees were investigated after a bolus intravenous injection of Escherichia coli endotoxin (4 ng/kg), 6 animals received endotoxin only, 4 animals received a simultaneous intravenous injection of a monoclonal anti-TNF antibody, whereas 3 chimpanzees were treated with an anti-TNF F(ab')2 fragment 30 min after the administration of endotoxin. TNF induced a modest rise in IL-10 concentrations peaking after 45 min (47 +/- 32 pg/ml; p < 0.05). IL-10 peaked 2 h after injection of endotoxin (202 +/- 61 pg/ml; p < 0.005). In both anti-TNF-treated groups, the early endotoxin-induced TNF activity was completely neutralized. Simultaneous anti-TNF treatment attenuated endotoxin-induced IL-10 release (73 +/- 13 pg/ml; p < 0.01 versus endotoxin alone), whereas postponed anti-TNF treatment did not significantly affect this response (p = 0.21). These results indicate that TNF, in part, mediates the induction of IL-10 in endotoxemia, resulting in an autoregulatory feedback loop.

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