Interleukins are a group of cytokines that were first seen to be expressed by leukocytes. The term interleukin describes a variety of polypeptides that act specifically as mediators between leucocytes. However, the name interleukin is something of a relic, since it has been found that interleukins are produced by a wide variety of body cells.
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Interleukin 1 is the first member of the IL-1 family which is closely linked to the innate immune response. IL-1 affects virtually all cells and organs and is a major pathogenic mediator of autoinflammatory, autoimmune, infectious, and degenerative diseases.
Interleukin 2, also known as T cell growth factor (TCGF), is produced by CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, some B cells and dendritic cells. IL-2 exerts a wide spectrum of effects on the immune system, and it plays crucial roles in regulating both immune activation and homeostasis.
Interleukin 5 was described for the first time as an eosinophil and B-cell growth factor in 1987. In humans, IL-5 is a very selective cytokine as a result of the restricted expression of the interleukin-5 receptor on eosinophils and basophils.
Interleukin 6 is a cytokine not only involved in inflammation and infection responses but also in the regulation of metabolic, regenerative, and neural processes. In classic signaling, IL-6 stimulates target cells via a membrane bound IL-6 receptor, which upon ligand binding associates with the signaling receptor protein gp130.
IL-7 receptor (IL-7R), binding to its cognate ligand IL-7 (interleukin 7), activates multiple pathways that regulate lymphocyte survival, glucose uptake, proliferation and differentiation. IL-7 (interleukin 7) is an essential cytokine for the development and homeostatic maintenance of T and B lymphocytes.
Interleukin 10, first described in 1989 as cytokine synthesis inhibitory factor (CSIF), suppresses immune function by blocking the synthesis of proinflammatory cytokines (e.g., IL-1, IL-6, IFN-γ, and TNF-α) in T cells, monocytes, and macrophages, and by inhibiting the expression of cell surface molecules involved in antigen presentation and costimulation.
IL-12 (interleukin 12) was first described as natural killer stimulating factor in 1989. The heterodimeric cytokine IL-12 consists of a 35-kd light chain (p35 or IL-12A) and 40-kd heavy chain (p40 or IL-12B).
Interleukin 17 is secreted by a variety of innate cells including macrophages, dendritic cells (DC), natural killer, natural killer T, lymphoid tissue inducer and γδ-T cells. IL-17 exerts a host-defensive role in many infectious diseases, and it promotes inflammatory pathology in autoimmunity and other settings.
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