Chemical Messengers

Cells in the immune system communicate with each other by using chemical messengers sending signals to trigger activities. These chemical messengers are known as cytokines. There are 60 known cytokines.

Table 14-1. Important Interleukins



Attracts phagocytes in an inflammatory response


Stimulates B cell production Stimulates T cell production


Attracts phagocytes to the inflammation site


Stimulates the differentiation of CD4-type T cells

Cytokines used for communication between leukocytic cells are called interleukins. There are 17 known interleukins that are identified by numbers assigned to them by an international committee. Table 14-1 lists important interleukins.

Cytokines are used as therapeutic agents to combat disease. For example, Inter-leukin-1 is used to stop blood flow to tumors in animals, thereby killing the tumor.

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