Chemokines in immunity

Adv Immunol. 2001;78:57-110. doi: 10.1016/s0065-2776(01)78002-9.


Chemokines are a superfamily of small, heparin-binding cytokines that induce directed migration of various types of leukocytes through interactions with a group of seven-transmembrane G protein-coupled receptors. At present, over 40 members have been identified in humans. Until a few years ago, chemokines were mainly known as potent attractants for leukocytes such as neutrophils and monocytes, and were thus mostly regarded as the mediators of acute and chronic inflammatory responses. They had highly complex ligand-receptor relationships and their genes were regularly mapped on chromosomes 4 and 17 in humans. Recently, novel chemokines have been identified in rapid succession, mostly through application of bioinformatics on expressed sequence tag databases. A number of surprises have followed the identification of novel chemokines. They are constitutively expressed in lymphoid and other tissues with individually characteristic patterns. Most of them turned out to be highly specific for lymphocytes and dendritic cells. They have much simpler ligand-receptor relationships, and their genes are mapped to chromosomal loci different from the traditional chemokine gene clusters. Thus, the emerging chemokines are functionally and genetically quite different from the classical "inflammatory chemokines" and may be classified as "immune (system) chemokines" because of their profound importance in the genesis, homeostasis and function of the immune system. The emergence of immune chemokines has brought about a great deal of impact on the current immunological research, leading us to a better understanding on the fine traffic regulation of lymphocytes and dendritic cells. The immune chemokines and their receptors are also likely to be important future targets for therapeutic intervention of our immune responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Chemokines / classification
  • Chemokines / physiology*
  • Dendritic Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunity*
  • Intestines / immunology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology
  • Receptors, Chemokine / physiology
  • Skin / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology


  • Chemokines
  • Receptors, Chemokine