Chemokines, a family of chemotactic cytokines

Crit Rev Oral Biol Med. 1995;6(2):109-18. doi: 10.1177/10454411950060020101.


Chemokines are low-molecular-weight proteins that stimulate recruitment of leukocytes. They are secondary pro-inflammatory mediators that are induced by primary pro-inflammatory mediators such as interleukin-1 (IL-1) or tumor necrosis factor (TNF). The physiologic importance of this family of mediators is derived from their specificity. Unlike the classic leukocyte chemo-attractants, which have little specificity, members of the chemokine family induce recruitment of well-defined leukocyte subsets. Thus, chemokine expression can account for the presence of different types of leukocytes observed in various normal or pathologic states. There are two major chemokine sub-families based upon the position of cysteine residues, i.e., CXC and CC. All members of the CXC chemokine sub-family have an intervening amino acid between the first two cysteines; members of the CC chemokine sub-family have two adjacent cysteines. As a general rule (with some notable exceptions), members of the CXC chemokines are chemotactic for neutrophils, and CC chemokines are chemotactic for monocytes and a small sub-set of lymphocytes. This review discusses the potential role of chemokines in inflammation and focuses on the two best-characterized chemokines, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), a CC chemokine, and interleukin-8 (IL-8), a member of the CXC chemokine sub-family.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemokine CCL2 / physiology
  • Chemokines / classification
  • Chemokines / genetics
  • Chemokines / physiology*
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte
  • Cysteine
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology
  • Interleukin-1 / physiology
  • Interleukin-8 / physiology
  • Leukocytes / physiology
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / physiology
  • Monocytes / physiology
  • Neutrophils / physiology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology


  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Chemokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-8
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Cysteine