The development of an effective immune response involves lymphoid cells, inflammatory cells, and hematopoietic cells. The complex interactions among these cells are mediated by a group of proteins collectively designated cytokines to denote their role in cell-to-cell communication. Cytokines are low-molecular-weight regulatory proteins or glycoproteins secreted by white blood cells and various other cells in the body in response to a number of stimuli. These proteins assist in regulating the development of immune effector cells, and some cytokines possess direct effector functions of their own.
This chapter focuses on the biological activity of cyto-kines, the structure of cytokines and their receptors, signal transduction by cytokine receptors, the role of cytokine abnormalities in the pathogenesis of certain diseases, and therapeutic uses of cytokines or their receptors. The important role of cytokines in the inflammatory response is described in Chapter 15.
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The term vaginitis is one that is applied to any inflammation or infection of the vagina, and there are many different conditions that are categorized together under this ‘broad’ heading, including bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis and non-infectious vaginitis.