The role of cytokines in the body.


Cytokines are proteins produced by cells and serve as molecular messengers between cells. In arthritis, cytokines regulate various inflammatory responses. As part of the immune system , cytokines regulate the body's response to disease and infection, and they also mediate normal cellular processes in the body.

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Types of cytokines

Cytokines are diverse and have various functions in the body. Them:

  • Stimulates the production of blood cells
  • It helps in the development, maintenance and repair of tissues.
  • Regulate your immune system
  • Manage inflammation through interferons, interleukins, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α )

Although “ cytokine '' is a general term that includes many types of messenger proteins, more specific names are given to cytokines depending on the type of cell that produces them or the action they have in the body:

  • Lymphokines produced by lymphocytes attract immune cells such as macrophages .
  • The monokines produced by monocytes attract neutrophils .
  • Chemokines are associated with chemotactic action.
  • Interleukins are produced by one white blood cell, but they act on other white blood cells, mediating communication between cells. Specific interleukins can have a great impact on intercellular communication.

How Cytokines Work

The immune system is complex: different types of immune cells and proteins perform different functions. Cytokines are among these proteins. To understand inflammation , you must understand the role of cytokines.

Cells release cytokines into the bloodstream or directly into tissues. Cytokines find the immune cells for which they are intended and bind to cell receptors. This interaction triggers or stimulates specific responses in target cells.

Cytokine overproduction

Overproduction or improper production of certain cytokines by the body can lead to disease.

For example, interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and TNF-α are overproduced in rheumatoid arthritis , where they are involved in inflammation and tissue destruction .

Biological cytokine inhibitors

Some biologics inhibit IL-1 or TNF-α.

Some biologics, such as enbrel and kinneret (anakinra), bind to cytokine receptors, thus blocking the binding of a cytokine to its receptor and suppressing the cytokine response. Actemra (tocilizumab) and Kevzara (sarilumab) work similarly, but they bind IL-6.

Other biologics bind to cytokines, preventing them from binding to their assigned receptors. For example, TNF-α inhibitors (also called TNF blockers ) bind to TNF and prevent it from binding to receptors on the cell surface. TNF-α inhibitors on the market:

Cytokine Basics

Pro-inflammatory cytokines play a role in the development of inflammatory and neuropathic pain.

Anti-inflammatory cytokines are actually antagonists of inflammatory cytokines.

Evidence suggests that chemokines are involved in the onset and persistence of pain .

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