Cytokines represent one of the most important elements in the communication among different cell types. They play an increasingly better understood role in the communication among hematopoietic cells and in particular in the reciprocal regulation of effector cell types of innate or natural resistance (phagocytic cells and Natural Killer (NK) cells) and those of adaptive immunity (T and B lymphocytes). Lymphocytes produce several cytokines with either stimulatory (e.g., colony stimulatory factor) or suppressive (e.g., tumor necrosis factors and interferons) effects on proliferation of early hematopoietic cells. Many of these cytokines, alone or acting in synergistic combinations, also have a differentiation-inducing ability on immature myeloid cells and act as powerful potentiators of the cellular functions of terminally differentiated phagocytic cells. The communication between lymphocytes and phagocytic cells is not unidirectional, as phagocytic cells produce factors that regulate lymphocyte activation.
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