Cytokines - Involvement in reproduction

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Objective: To relay the current knowledge on the interaction between the immune and reproductive systems that results from sharing certain lymphohematopoietic cytokines and their receptors. Data Identification: Major studies related to this topic have been identified through MEDLINE searches and through the published literature. Study Selection: Those that have reported on the role of cytokines in the neuroendocrine events of reproduction, ovarian function, placenta, and the developing embryo. Results: The field of growth factor and cytokines and their effects on reproduction is a rapidly growing new area of investigation. Immune cells and related cytokines have been shown to affect the neuroendocrine events of reproduction, ovarian function, placenta, and the developing embryo. Furthermore, it is now becoming apparent that these relationships are reciprocal in that the different cellular components of the neuroendocrine and reproductive systems and the developing embryo can modulate the production of cytokine by the immune system and can also produce certain cytokines. The presence of lymphocytes and macrophages in the female reproductive system, together with the fact that these cells may secrete soluble factors influencing embryo development and trophoblast growth, might suggest that cytokines may play a fundamental role in the mechanisms of immunological reproductive failure. In addition, different mixtures of these mediators, generated by immune cells, the developing embryo, or other maternal cells, may modulate the fine tuning of these activities. Conclusions: Current knowledge indicates a close interaction between the immune and reproductive functions. Further understanding of these interactions may lead to new concepts in fertility regulation.




Ben-Rafael, Z., & Orvieto, R. (1992). Cytokines - Involvement in reproduction. Fertility and Sterility, 58(6), 1093–1099.

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