Signaling Molecules

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Signaling Molecules 2019-09-22T14:43:54-07:00


Cytokines: Cytokines are a broad and loose category of small proteins that are important in cell signaling. They are released by cells and affect the behavior of other cells. Cytokines include chemokines, interferons, interleukins, lymphokines, tumour necrosis factor but generally not hormones or growth factors (despite some terminologic overlap). Cytokines are produced by broad range of cells, including immune cells like macrophages, B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes and mast cells, as well as endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and various stromal cells; a given cytokine may be produced by more than one type of cell.

They act through receptors and they regulate the maturation, growth, and responsiveness of particular cell populations. Some cytokines enhance or inhibit the action of other cytokines in complex ways.

Cytokines are important in:

  • Health And Disease (Specifically In Host Responses To Infection)
  • Immune Responses
  • Inflammation
  • Trauma
  • Sepsis
  • Cancer
  • Reproduction

Growth Factors

Regenerative Medicine Specialists

A growth factor is a naturally occurring substance capable of stimulating cellular growth,[1] proliferation, healing, and cellular differentiation. Usually it is a protein or a steroid hormone. Growth factors are important for regulating a variety of cellular processes.

Growth factors typically act as signaling molecules between cells. Examples are cytokines and hormones that bind to specific receptors on the surface of their target cells.

They often promote cell differentiation and maturation, which varies between growth factors. For example, bone morphogenetic proteins stimulate bone cell differentiation, while fibroblast growth factors and vascular endothelial growth factors stimulate blood vessel differentiation (angiogenesis).

Growth factor is sometimes used interchangeably among scientists with the term cytokine. Historically, cytokines were associated with hematopoietic (blood forming) cells and immune system cells (e.g., lymphocytes and tissue cells from spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes). For the circulatory system and bone marrow in which cells can occur in a liquid suspension and not bound up in solid tissue, it makes sense for them to communicate by soluble, circulating protein molecules. However, as different lines of research converged, it became clear that some of the same signaling proteins the hematopoietic and immune systems used were also being used by all sorts of other cells and tissues, during development and in the mature organism.

While growth factor implies a positive effect on cell division, cytokine is a neutral term with respect to whether a molecule affects proliferation. While some cytokines can be growth factors, such as G-CSF and GM-CSF, others have an inhibitory effect on cell growth or proliferation. Some cytokines, such as Fas ligand, are used as “death” signals; they cause target cells to undergo programmed cell death or apoptosis.

Cytokines and growth factors can be found in platelets and stem cells and play a very important role in the regenerative medicine process. They can also be found in commercially available products for injection and can be used as stand alone treatments or in combination with PRP and stem cell treatments.