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Cytokines in Human Health: Immunotoxicology, Pathology, and Therapeutic Applications (Methods in Pharmacology and Toxicology)

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Over the past three decades the field of immunotoxicology, the study of the effects of exposure to drugs, chemicals, or physical/environmental agents on the structure and function of the immune system has benefited from an increasingly detailed understanding of the cellular and molecular basis of innate and acquired immunity. Arguably one of the most promising areas of investigation centers on the intensely complex network of biochemical regulators, namely the cytokines (and, to a lesser degree, their biochemical cousins the chemokines). Cytokines facilitate the initial recognition of foreignness that launches innate host defenses, they form the bridge that allows a nonspecific response to mature into an antigen-specific acquired immune response, and they maintain this response for the life of the individual. Clearly, any event that affects the biology of these important molecules is likely to have significant effects on the overall immune competence of the host.

In Cytokines in Human Health: Immunotoxicology, Pathology, and Therapeutic Applications, experts of cytokine biology share their knowledge on various aspects of how modulation of cytokines can affect human health. First, the basic biology of cytokines is reviewed, particularly as this relates to the ability of external influences (whether inadvertent or deliberate) to modify the expression, production, and activity of these molecules. Various chapters describe methodology for measuring cytokine activity, basic description of how differential cytokine modulation determines the type of immune response generated, and how microbes can act as agents of immunotoxicity by directly modulating the cytokine cascade.

This sets the stage for practical preclinical understanding of the effect of cytokines, including how they function in chemical allergy, lung toxicity, and drug abuse. In addition, methods are described for assessing cytokine immunotoxicity. This group of chapters provides the reader with a broad understanding of the range of cytokine activity in human disease.
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