Cytokines are small proteins secreted by the cells from the immune system which enable intercellular communication between immune cells during an immune response. While pro-inflammatory cytokines alert our immune system of a potential infection, a dysregulated cytokine production system can lead or play a critical role in a range of diseases including cancer, arthritis, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and infectious diseases.

Cytokine Store-3

Cytokines in COVID19 pathogenesis

Recently, cytokines have been shown to play a vital role in COVID 19 pathogenesis. In some patients, SARS-CoV-2 infection results in an excessive rapid release of inflammatory cytokines, an event described as ‘Cytokine storm’ which might prompt depletion and exhaustion of T cells observed among patients with COVID-19 [1].

Learn more about Cytokine Storm.

Cytokine img

Cytokines in Cancer Immunotherapy

Cytokines are potent and complex immune mediators. A delicate balancing dance between the different stimulating and antagonistic cytokines determine the end result. As they have a limited half-life, they are short-lived, thus exerting autocrine or paracrine effect.

Studies have shown that cells from the immune system can specifically recognize and destroy cancer cells. Cytokines are secreted by cells from the immune system, hence they have been explored in treatment of cancer.

Cytokines in monotherapy have not been successful, hence a combination of cytokines with checkpoint inhibitors, anticancer monoclonal antibodies to increase the antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity of the antibodies (ADCC), anti-cytokine fusion proteins and anti-CD40 are being explored [2].

Immuno-stimulatory cytokines that help the fight against cancer

IFN-α IL-2 IL-10 IL-12 GMCSF

Immunosuppressive cytokines in cancer therapy