Cytokines - Definition

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Cytokines are glycoproteins, molecules composed of both carbohydrates and proteins. Some are naturally produced by certain types of white blood cells and are able to communicate among themselves to generate global reactions. Others are able to combat inflammatory processes, or to reduce immune mechanisms, meaning the immune defense of an organism. Some have a defensive effect against viruses. Finally, cytokines allow the specialization of cells developing from a stem cell. Cytokines are also used in therapeutics to treat certain infections, auto-immune diseases or cancers.