Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman


  • Briain O. HartaighEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_450-2



  1. 1.

    Low molecular weight proteins that stimulate or inhibit the differentiation, proliferation, or function of immune cells.

  2. 2.

    Small cell-signaling protein molecules that are secreted by numerous cells of the body in order to affect the behavior of other cells that bear receptors for them.

  3. 3.

    Extensively involved in intercellular communication.



Cytokines are small cell-signaling protein molecules weighing approximately 25 kDa. Based on their presumed function, cell of secretion, and target of action, cytokines were previously referred to as lymphokines, interleukins (IL), and chemokines. These terms were generally used in an attempt to develop a standardized nomenclature for molecules that were secreted by and which acted on cells of the body. However, due to an ever-increasing number of cytokines with diverse origins, structures, and effects being discovered, these terms are now considered to be...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Janeway, C. A., Travers, P., Walport, M., & Shlomchik, M. J. (2005). Immunobiology: The immune system in health and disease (6th ed.). London: Garland Science.Google Scholar
  2. Roitt, I. M., & Delves, P. J. (2001). Essential immunology (10th ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Science.Google Scholar
  3. Staines, N., Brostoff, J., & James, K. (1993). Introducing immunology (2nd ed.). London: Mosby.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Sport and Exercise SciencesThe University of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Anna C. Whittaker
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation SciencesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK