Communication is the key.
Without it, coordinating the actions of different immune cells would be impossible, and the immune system would fail.
Small glycoproteins, called cytokines, can be thought of as the language of the immune system. Through cytokines the body responds to infection or damage, both in the immediate environment, or more distantly. Cytokines are the signals used by the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system, causing cells to differentiate, proliferate, migrate and activate in a controlled, and often complicated, way.
The effects of many cytokines depends on context and the specific receptors on cells detecting and responding to them. Historically, this has led to different groups of researchers discovering and naming proteins that carried out a certain action, that later turned out to be the same thing. This led to some confusion in the naming of cytokines, which can make getting started in immunology something of a headache, however, help is at hand. Check out the resources section below.
Despite their powerful effects mediating the immune system they differ from other signalling molecules like hormones, in that they are not produced by discreet glands, but more typically from individual cells wherever they might be, or where there is damage of some kind. Although, like many things in biology, it’s not always so clear cut as to how to define what’s a hormone, a cytokine, or a growth factor. It’s a spectrum of functions.
Generally the term cytokines can be taken to include chemokines and growth factors, essentially viewing them as cytokines that induce chemotaxis and growth and differentiation of cells into other ‘mature’ cell types.
The diversity of cytokines and their receptors is truly huge, and fortunately, recognising their role in health and disease there is an equally huge diversity of reagents and kits to investigate them. At 2BScientific we have worked with a number of suppliers to provide what we think are some of the best reagents, from recombinant proteins and antibodies to full-fledged kits.
If you’re having trouble navigating the minefield of acronyms that is cytokine nomenclature (lymphokines, interleukins, chemokines…) it’s worth checking out ‘Cope with cytokines’ a kind of online encyclopaedia of cytokines, detailing their names, other names, other other names, and known functions.
Whether you're looking to measure cytokines in serum or plasma, locate them in tissues, or use them to stimulate cells, we should have what you're looking for.
Below are a few broad catagories, but if you can't find what you're after, do get in touch: info@2BScientific.com