Cytokines are soluble mediators of intercellular communication. They contribute to a chemical signalling language that regulates development, tissue repair, haemopoiesis, inflammation and the immune response. Potent cytokine polypepides have pleiotropic activities and functional redundancy. They act in a complex network where one cytokine can influence the production of, and response to, many other cytokines. In the past five years, this bewildering array of more than 100 effector molecules and associated cell surface receptors has been simplified by study of cytokine and cytokine receptor structure; elucidation of convergent intracellular signalling pathways; and molecular genetics, and targeted gene disruption to 'knock-out' production of individual cytokines in mice. It is also now clear that the pathophysiology of infectious, autoimmune and malignant disease can be partially explained by the induction of cytokines and the subsequent cellular response. Viral homologues exist for many cytokines and receptors and genetic variations in cytokine production may influence response to pathogenic stimuli.
Cytokine and cytokine antagonists have shown therapeutic potential in a number of chronic and acute diseases. The Cytokine Network: Frontiers in Molecular Biology is not a survey of individual cytokines, but guides the reader through the latest research on the cytokine network as a whole covering genomics, signalling pathways, control of the immune response, and therapeutics.
Publisher: Oxford University Press