How do cytokines work


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Written by Astrid Clasen • Medical editor

Cytokines form a diverse group of proteins that play an important role in the immune system. They are formed and released by immune cells, but also by many non-immunological cells.

Cytokines are part of the unspecific (innate) and the specific (acquired) immune defense. They act as Messenger substancesthrough which the immune cells communicate with each other. Cytokines can play this role Stimulate or inhibit immune responses. In this way, they control and coordinate the defense against pathogens. Cytokines are therefore partly responsible for ensuring that an immune reaction proceeds successfully. They act as growth factors, activate or deactivate cells and protect the tissue from damage.

Need cytokines do not enter the cellto work. A cytokine only docks to a so-called receptor at the on the cell surface sits. This bond then leads to the initiation and transmission of certain biological reactions within the cell.

When a cytokine Not works, this can severe health consequences of those affected have: Because of the great importance of cytokines for the successful immune defense, hereditary or acquired defects in their function can cause severe immune deficiencies or pathological inflammatory conditions.

On the other hand come to Treatment of some diseasesAntibodies or cytokine receptors are used to to specifically inhibit certain cytokines: Such anti-inflammatory agents are available for example against Crohn's disease or rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, (because of their stimulating effect on growth or the immune system), the Cytokines themselves have therapeutic benefits: For example, immunotherapy can be used for viral hepatitis.

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