Role of tumor necrosis factor‐alpha in the pathophysiology of idiopathic intracranial hypertension


Although the pathogenesis of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is still poorly understood, the contribution of inflammatory mechanisms has been proposed in its pathophysiology.


This study aimed to measure serum tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) levels in patients with IIH and to examine its relationship with clinical and ophthalmological parameters and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) opening pressure.

Subjects and methods

Thirty-six IIH patients and 30 healthy subjects were enrolled in the study. Patients were subjected to complete neurological, general, and ophthalmological assessments. Serum TNF-α levels were measured for patients and controls using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.


Serum TNF-α levels were significantly higher in IIH patients compared to healthy controls (p value <.001). Serum TNF-α level was significantly negatively correlated with grade of perimetry and CSF opening pressure (r = −.36, p value = .02), (r = −.37, p value = .02) respectively. However, serum TNF-α was not significantly correlated either with age at onset, disease duration, BMI, headache severity, relapse rate, visual acuity, or papilloedema grade. Serum TNF-α was found to be a significant predictor of the severity of the visual field affection in IIH patients, as one-grade increase of the perimetric grading was associated with a decrease in serum TNF-α by 13.96 ng/ml.


Altered serum TNF-α levels may suggest the potential involvement of pro-inflammatory mechanisms in the pathogenesis of IIH. Serum TNF-α level may be an indicator of the severity of the visual field affection in IIH.

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