by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
Cytokines are small protein molecules that provide communication among immune system cells, and also between these cells and cells belonging to other tissue groups.
They are actively secreted by immune cells as well as other cell types. Cytokines that are produced by immune cells form a subset known as lymphokines. Their action is often local, but sometimes can have effects on the whole body.
There are a lot of known cytokines that have both stimulating and suppressing on the immune response. What occurs is this: an antigen such as a virus or fungus or bacteria stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies specific against that antigen . Some of the better known cytokines include: histamine, prostaglandin, TNF-a,IL-1, and IL-6.
Cytokines act by binding to receptors located in the cell membrane, which is a thin membrane around the cytoplasm of a
cell. The membrane controls passage of substances into and out of the cell. The membrane allows a signal cascade to start in the cell, that eventually will lead to biochemical changes in the target cell.
Cytokines play a pivotal role in regulation of inflammation. Some cytokines are pro-inflammatory and others are anti-inflammatory. It is the relative balance that dictates the magnitude of inflammation.
Some of the best known and most often used biologic drugs work because of their ability to block pro-inflammatory cytokine activity. Examples are the TNF-a blockers and tocilizumab (Actemra) which blocks interleukin-6.
Get more information about cytokine substances and related issues as well as...
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