Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: January 26, 2006
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Cells of the immune system communicate with each other and with other organs and tissues using cell signal proteins termed cytokines. Cytokines induce and orchestrate the specific response necessary to combat the threat (be it a pathogen or stressor) at hand. Cytokines are predominantly produced by immune cells such as macrophages, dendritic cells, and T cells of the lymphocyte population. Cells of the immune system and other tissues contain receptors for these cytokines which lead to further cell signals and cellular activation. The receptors may be on the cell surface of the recipient cell or the receptors may be soluble. Some receptors are functional and activate the recipient cell, while others are decoys and play an important role in regulation of the immune response. Cytokines can be grouped by function, including acute phase cytokines, immune response cytokines, and hematopoeitic growth factors (Janeway et al., 2001). Another very important group of cell signals are chemokines with the primary function of cell recruitment and trafficking.