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Differences Between Cytokines and Chemokines

Cytokines vs Chemokines

If you’re a medical student who’s studying cellular biology, then you’ve probably heard of cytokines and chemokines and the unique role they play in augmenting the body’s natural defenses. The human body was designed to combat a wide range of diseases, especially those which involve foreign organisms such as bacteria. Cytokines have been mistaken for chemokines and vice versa because they are both connected with the immune system. It’s important to differentiate between the two in order to appreciate the complexity of the human body, as well as observe how it puts up its defenses against threats from the outside world. It’s also interesting to note that the interaction of cytokines and chemokines isn’t limited to the human body because other mammals have them in their defense systems as well.

Cytokines and chemokines have one similarity: they are proteins manufactured by cells affiliated with the immune system. Once an infection is detected in the human body, the cells release cytokines, which in turn trigger leukocytes, which are commonly known as white blood cells. Cytokines are also responsible for healing the wound directly via blood cells called endothelium and coagulating enzymes. Foreign organisms are destroyed by leukocytes, while skin cells close the wound by replacing the lost blood vessels and collagen.

This process is necessary for reducing inflammation and boosting the healing process for any open wounds inside or outside the body. The difference between the two lies in their function. While they both aim to increase the body’s immunity, they may be assigned to different tasks. “Cytokine” is the general term for the messenger protein molecules that moderate the body’s natural defenses. Chemokines, on the other hand, are a unique type of cytokines that focus on white blood cell migration to damaged or infected body parts.

Chemokines are specially adapted for chemotaxis, also known as the guiding of cell movement towards a target location. Chemokines unleash the might of white blood cells on areas infected with microorganisms as well as cells that may have been compromised by the infection. This special process ensures that the infection won’t spread throughout the body. Chemokines react immediately once pathogens are detected. Without them, the immune process will be toothless because the white blood cells won’t be effectively directed towards the area of concern. An infection that reaches other parts of the body might cause complications and a more severe immune response such as fever. Once the body is rid of the pathogens, the healing process is mediated by the cytokines. There are other types of cytokines called interleukin molecules that also bolster the immune system by moderating healing, determining the extent of the fever, and most importantly, the healing of wounds.

Summary:

Cytokines and chemokines are proteins that regulate the processes of the immune system. They are valuable when it comes to fighting diseases. They are considered as messenger proteins that trigger various body processes in an effort to ward off infection and heal wounds.

Cytokines trigger the production of white blood cells as well as a coagulating response that seeks to heal the damaged area. This process accelerates the healing process for wounds inside or outside the body.

The difference between cytokines and chemokines lies in their function. A chemokine is a special type of cytokine whose main objective is to guide the white blood cells to the affected area, a process which is known as chemotaxis. The white blood cells, along with lymphocytes, destroy any foreign microorganisms that may be causing the infection. They get rid of these pathogens to ensure that they don’t spread throughout the body. Once pathogens are removed, the healing process commences thanks to the cytokines.


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