Interleukins are a group of cytokines (secreted proteins/signaling molecules) that were first seen to be expressed by white blood cells (leukocytes), The term interleukine, (inter-) as a means of communication, (-leukin) deriving from the fact that many of these proteins are produced by leukocytes and act on leukocytes. The name is something of a relic though (the term was coined by Dr. Paetkau, University of Victoria); it has since been found that interleukins are produced by a wide variety of body cells. The function of the immune system depends in a large part on interleukins, and rare deficiencies of a number of them have been described, all featuring autoimmune diseases or immune deficiency. The majority of interleukins are synthesized by helper CD4+ T lymphocytes, as well as through monocytes, macrophages, and endothelial cells. They promote the development and differentiation of T, B, and hematopoietic cells.
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