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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 10, Issue 5, Pages 323-328
Pathophysiology - Symptom Generation

Cytokine Interactions with Epithelium

Kim E Barrett

Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of California and School of Medicine, San Diego, California, USA

Copyright © 1996 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cytokines are a family of proteins that serve as intracellular messengers within the immune system and as growth factors for several cell types. Recent studies indicate that intestinal inflammation is accompanied by increases in a wide variety of cytokines and growth factors. Current knowledge in the area of cytokine-epithelial interactions, with particular reference to the involvement of such interactions in intestinal inflammation, is reviewed. Topics include epithelial functions subject to modulation by cytokines; effects of cytokines on epithelial damage, restitution and proliferation; effects of cytokines on the ability of the epithelium to express immune accessory and adhesion molecules; and effects of cytokines on the production of inflammatory mediators by the epithelium.