NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms
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A type of protein that is made by certain immune and non-immune cells and has an effect on the immune system. Some cytokines stimulate the immune system and others slow it down. They can also be made in the laboratory and used to help the body fight cancer, infections, and other diseases. Examples of cytokines are interleukins, interferons, and colony-stimulating factors (filgrastim, sargramostim).