The meteorology of cytokine storms, and the clinical usefulness of this knowledge
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Seminars in Immunopathology, 2017, 39 (5), pp. 505 - 516
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© 2017, The Author(s). The term cytokine storm has become a popular descriptor of the dramatic harmful consequences of the rapid release of polypeptide mediators, or cytokines, that generate inflammatory responses. This occurs throughout the body in both non-infectious and infectious disease states, including the central nervous system. In infectious disease it has become a useful concept through which to appreciate that most infectious disease is not caused directly by a pathogen, but by an overexuberant innate immune response by the host to its presence. It is less widely known that in addition to these roles in disease pathogenesis these same cytokines are also the basis of innate immunity, and in lower concentrations have many essential physiological roles. Here we update this field, including what can be learned through the history of how these interlinking three aspects of biology and disease came to be appreciated. We argue that understanding cytokine storms in their various degrees of acuteness, severity and persistence is essential in order to grasp the pathophysiology of many diseases, and thus the basis of newer therapeutic approaches to treating them. This particularly applies to the neurodegenerative diseases.
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