Cytokine cross-talk between phagocytic cells and lymphocytes: relevance for differentiation/activation of phagocytic cells and regulation of adaptive immunity

J Cell Biochem. 1993 Dec;53(4):301-8. doi: 10.1002/jcb.240530406.


Cytokines represent one of the most important elements in the communication among different cell types. They play an increasingly better understood role in the communication among hematopoietic cells and in particular in the reciprocal regulation of effector cell types of innate or natural resistance (phagocytic cells and Natural Killer (NK) cells) and those of adaptive immunity (T and B lymphocytes). Lymphocytes produce several cytokines with either stimulatory (e.g., colony stimulatory factor) or suppressive (e.g., tumor necrosis factors and interferons) effects on proliferation of early hematopoietic cells. Many of these cytokines, alone or acting in synergistic combinations, also have a differentiation-inducing ability on immature myeloid cells and act as powerful potentiators of the cellular functions of terminally differentiated phagocytic cells. The communication between lymphocytes and phagocytic cells is not unidirectional, as phagocytic cells produce factors that regulate lymphocyte activation. In addition to their role as antigen presenting cells expressing costimulatory accessory molecules and secreting cytokines (e.g., IL-1, IL-6, TNF), phagocytic cells have been recently shown to produce Natural Killer cell Stimulatory Factor (NKSF/IL-12). IL-12 is a heterodimeric cytokine with important modulatory functions on cytotoxicity of NK and T cells, lymphocyte proliferation, lymphokine production, and development of T helper cell subsets. These communications between phagocytic cells and lymphocytes are further regulated by negative and positive feedback mechanisms that contribute to maintain the homeostasis of the system in physiologic conditions and to govern the changes in this equilibrium needed for the response to infectious or other foreign agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Humans
  • Immunity*
  • Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Phagocytes / physiology*


  • Cytokines