Cytokines and chemokines are known as immune-modulating agents that mediate and modulate the responses of the immune system. The term “cytokine” is derived from the two Greek words: “cyto” meaning cell and “kinos” meaning movement. Cytokines play an important role in immune-related concerns, traumas, and anything related to disease and health.


A cytokine is a group of proteins built by the immune system that work as chemical messengers. Cytokines can be observed as glycoproteins, proteins, or peptides that are secreted by monocytes and lymphocytes that balance haematopoiesis, immune responses, and lymphocyte development.

These proteins act as carriers between cells, which plays a major role since it consists of critical information that affects and determines many conditions in the body which includes modulating bone structure, embryonic development and modulating bone structure to maintain homeostasis. Cytokines majorly function as mediators and regulators of inflammatory responses. They can activate the movement of cells towards the infected areas, physical traumas, and inflammation by triggering immunity response. Accurate detection and quantification of cytokine concentrations, therefore, becomes essential in describing the nature of the infection and powerful to follow the disease-staging process. To do this, scientists are increasingly using enzyme labels and immunoassays using enzyme-conjugated antibodies

ELISA test or the indirect sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, a cost-effective analytical tool being commonly used for antibodies, antigens, proteins and glycoproteins analysis. ELISA principle is used extensively for cytokine analysis in the disease-staging process, including those for neurological diseases.

The four advantages of ELISA test are as below : –

-ELISAs produce specific, precise and sensitive results, with high-throughput rates necessary for cytokine protein analysis whether the study is in vitro cell culture system or an in vivo animal model.

– Typically, ELISA can measure cytokines produced in a culture medium, the concentration of ex vivo cytokine levels in plasma and serum, and induced cytokine production in our whole blood assays.

– ELISA provides high accuracy because it uses antibodies specific to one cytokine or form.

– Sequential ELISA assays are used to analyse multiple cytokines proteins from samples with small volumes.


Cytokines can be classified into several categories such as pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Proinflammatory cytokines are developed by activated macrophages and are responsible for inflammatory reactions.

Anti-inflammatory cytokines are the molecules that control the pro-inflammatory cytokine response and balance the immune system.

Which are the Major Families of Cytokines and their key characteristics?

Chemokines: Adhesion, activation and cell migration

Interleukins: Numerous functions that are dependent upon the interleukin cell type

Interferons: Antiviral proteins

Lymphokines: Instruct the immune system response

Monokines: Control immune responses

Erythropoietin: Determine red blood cell production


The Role Of Cytokines

Immune system regulation

Cytokines are majorly produced by T-helper cells and macrophages. T helper cells support the other cells in the immune response by secreting cytokines and determining foreign antigens which then stimulate T and B cells. Macrophages control and kill microorganisms, cut out dead cells, improve immune response, and implant foreign material.

Cytokines determine the body’s response to infection and disease by regulating and connecting with immune system cells. Cytokines can influence both adaptive and innate immune responses. The health of our immune system depends on the optimal production and functioning of our cytokines.

Helps reduce Arthritis pain

As seen, cytokines determine various inflammatory responses. They also play a major role in arthritis that is an inflammatory joint disease. If a body inappropriately produces certain cytokines or if there is overproduction, it can cause disease.

It is found that arthritis patients have increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, whereas their anti-inflammatory versions are also found in the synovial fluids of the patients with RA and synovial fluids. According to research studies using animal models, the ability of anti-inflammatory cytokines to reduce the arthritis pain has been demonstrated.

Decrease chronic pain and inflammation

It is observed that inflammation is the root cause of many diseases and anti-inflammatory cytokines are known to lower inflammation in the body. According to a scientific article, “Cytokines, Inflammation, and Pain,” it is observed that interleukin 10 (IL-10) has some of the effective anti-inflammatory properties of all the other inflammatory cytokines. It can also control the expression of inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), interleukin 1 (IL-1).

Effectively fight against cancer

Various cytokines are used in cancer immunotherapy now including the treatment of lymphoma, bladder cancer, leukemia, kidney cancer, and melanoma. Cytokines are naturally produced in our body, but for the treatment of cancer, these cytokines are produced in a laboratory. These proteins are then injected in doses larger than the cytokines a body could produce on its own.

To know more about the why the principle of ELISA is popular in cytokine detection read our latest article. At Helvetica Health Care we provide a wide range of ELISA kits ready to use with break-apart wells. To know the availability of our ELISA kits, contact us at our office in Geneva.