BackgroundCytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) α have been implicated in neurodegeneration relevant to various neuropsychiatric disorders. Little is known about the genetic predisposition to neurodegenerative properties of cytokine genes on brain function and on hippocampus (HC) function in particular. In this study we investigate the neurodegenerative role of TNF polymorphisms on brain morphology in healthy individuals. MethodsVoxel-based morphometry was used in a large sample of healthy individuals (n = 303) to analyze the associations between genetic variants of TNF (rs1800629; rs361525) and brain morphology (gray matter concentration). ResultsIn a region of interest analysis of the HC, for rs1800629, we observed a strong genotype effect on bilateral HC gray matter concentration. Carriers of one or two A-alleles had significantly smaller volumes compared with GG-homozygotes. For rs361525, a similar effect was observed at almost the same location, with the A-allele resulting in smaller HC volumes compared with GG homozygotes. ConclusionsThe findings suggest a neurodegenerative role of the A-alleles of the TNF single nucleotide polymorphisms rs1800629 (-308G/A) and rs361525 (-238G/A) on hippocampal volumes in healthy individuals. Future imaging studies on the role of these single nucleotide polymorphisms in psychiatric populations of diseases with neurodegenerative components are warranted.