Endogeneous immunomodulators (immunohormones)

  • Miroslav Ferenčík


The immune system possesses self-regulatory factors, generated in the lymphoid tissue, that influence the development, differentiation and functional activity of individual cells of the immune system or even other tissues and organs. Some of these have a typical hormonal character (e.g. thymic hormones), others act mainly as local hormones (e.g. lymphokines and other cytokines). Hormones are secreted by endocrine mechanisms, and the target cells which receive their signal may be localized in any body compartment (sometimes far from the site of secretion). Secretion of local hormones is achieved by paracrine mechanisms and their effect is usually limited to surrounding cells. Although a proportion of local hormones also passes into the circulation, their concentration is higher in the microenvironment at the site of generation than in the circulation. Lymphoid cells are able to migrate through the organism and therefore their immunoregulatory products (lymphokines), despite being of local hormone character, are actually systemi cally active (i.e. at the level of the whole organism), which is highly effective and economical. With regard to their function, these substances were recently called “hormones of immunity”. The immunohormones include hormones of the thymus and bursa of Fabricius, lymphokines, interleukins, etc. Chemically, these substances are peptides and glycoproteins with a short biological half-life. Such substances (either synthetic or isolated from biological material) may be administered to the organism as immunomodulators or modifiers of the immune response for treatment of various diseases.


Glycosylation Site Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor Major Histocompatibility Complex Antigen Potential Glycosylation Site Thymic Hormone 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miroslav Ferenčík
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Immunology, Faculty of MedicineComenius UniversityBratislavaCzechoslovakia

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