2. Cytokines and chemokines

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003 Feb;111(2 Suppl):S460-75. doi: 10.1067/mai.2003.108.


Cytokines and chemokines are redundant secreted proteins with growth, differentiation, and activation functions that regulate and determine the nature of immune responses and control immune cell trafficking and the cellular arrangement of immune organs. Which cytokines are produced in response to an immune insult determines initially whether an immune response develops and subsequently whether that response is cytotoxic, humoral, cell-mediated, or allergic. A cascade of responses can be seen in response to cytokines, and often several cytokines are required to synergize to express optimal function. An additional confounding variable in dissecting cytokine function is that each cytokine may have a completely different function, depending on the cellular source, target, and, most important, specific phase of the immune response during which it is presented. Numerous cytokines have both proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory potential; which activity is observed depends on the immune cells present and their state of responsiveness to the cytokine. For this chapter, cytokines are grouped according to those that are mononuclear phagocytic-derived or T-lymphocytic-derived; that mediate cytotoxic (antiviral and anticancer), humoral, cell-mediated, or allergic immunity; and that are immunosuppressive. The biology of chemokines are then reviewed, grouped by family.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / physiology
  • Chemokines / physiology*
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Immunity, Cellular / physiology
  • Receptors, Cytokine / physiology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Cytokine
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha