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Cytokines and Their Side Effects

Cytokines and Their Side Effects


Cytokines are a broad and loose category of small proteins (~520 kDa) important in cell signalling. Cytokines are peptides and can't cross the lipid bilayer of cells to enter the cytoplasm. Cytokines are involved in autocrine, paracrine and endocrine signalling as immunomodulating agents. Cytokines include chemokines, interferons, interleukins, lymphokines and tumour necrosis factor (TNF), but generally not hormones or growth factors. Cytokines are produced by a broad range of cells, including immune cells like macrophages, B lymphocytes,

T lymphocytes and mast cells, also as endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and various stromal cells; a given cytokine could also be produced by quite one sort of cell.

They act through cell surface receptors and are especially important within the immune system; cytokines modulate the balance between humoral and cell-based immune responses, and that they regulate the maturation, growth, and responsiveness of particular cell populations. Some cytokines enhance or inhibit the action of other cytokines in complex ways. They are different from hormones, which also are important cell signalling molecules. Hormones circulate in higher concentrations and have a bent to be made by certain types of cells. Cytokines are important in health and disease, specifically in host immune responses to infection, inflammation, trauma, sepsis, cancer, and reproduction. They also help to spice up anti-cancer activity by sending signals which will help make abnormal cells die and normal cells live longer. Some cytokines are often made during a lab and are wont to treat cancer. Some are wont to help prevent or manage chemotherapy side effects. They are injected, either under the skin, into a muscle, or a vein. The most common ones are interleukins and interferons.


Interleukins are a gaggle of cytokines that act as chemical signals between white blood cells. Interleukin-2 (IL-2) helps system cells grow and divide more quickly. IL-2 are often used together with drug treatment for these cancers, or it is often combined with chemotherapy or with other cytokines like interferon-alfa. A man-made version of IL-2 is approved to treat advanced kidney cancer and metastatic melanoma.

Side effects of IL-2 can include flu-like symptoms like chills, fever, fatigue, and confusion. Some have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea. Many people develop low vital signs, which may be treated with other medicines. Rare but potentially serious side effects include an abnormal heartbeat, pain, and other heart problems. Because of these possible side effects, if IL-2 is given in high doses, it must be wiped out of the hospital.


Interferons are chemicals that help the body resist virus infections and cancers. The types of interferon (IFN) are:




Only IFN-alfa is used to treat cancer. It boosts the power of certain immune cells to attack cancer cells. It may also slow the expansion of cancer cells directly, also because of the blood vessels that tumours got to grow. IFN-alfa is often wont to treat these cancers: Hairy cell leukaemia, chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML), Follicular non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Cutaneous (skin) T-cell lymphoma, Kidney cancer, Melanoma and Kaposi sarcoma.

Side effects of interferons can include:

  • Flu-like symptoms (chills, fever, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting)
  • Low white blood corpuscle counts (which increase the danger of infection)
  • Skin rashes
  • Thinning hair
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