Definition of Chemokines

Proteins, also called chemotactic cytokines, that draw or direct leukocytes to the scene of infection within the body. Macrophages produce chemokines when they encounter foreign cells, instigating an immune response. Some chemokines act as homing signals, marking the foreign cells so responding immune cells can zero in on them. Other send out biochemical “alerts” that attract circulating monocytes and lymphocytes.

Chemokines are integral in the process of angiogenesis (the development and growth of new blood vessels) that occurs when both healing and tumor progression (such as in cancer) takes place. Researchers are exploring ways to target chemokines as a means of shutting down angiogenesis, which has the potential to starve tumors.


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