I’ve been reading an interesting 2016 review article called Cytokine networks in neuroinflammation.*
Click here for the abstract.
Some of the differences between neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration are beautifully explained. Both diagrams come from this article.
Cells in our body and brain produce cytokines, small proteins that are powerful and wilful little beasties. They provide a very effective means of cell communication, and can “orchestrate complex multicellular behaviour”.
Over 300 different cytokines have been identified, but some of them have shown that in one situation they will behave in one way, but in another situation the same cytokine will do the complete opposite.
Cytokines are part of the body and brain’s response to something going wrong. But cytokines themselves can go haywire (called cytokine network dysfunction or dysregulation) and set up and maintain cascades of activity that can ultimately cause harm to the tissue.