Allele specific regulation of cytokine genes: Monoallelic expression of the IL-lA gene

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Abstract

The host immune response strongly controls the susceptibility and outcome of inflammatory and infectious diseases in humans. Cytokines play an important role in this response as crucial intercellular signaling molecules that are responsible for multidirectional communication among immune and inflammatory cells engaged in host defense. They exert their effects by binding to high-affinity receptors expressed on target cells thereby inducing biochemical signals within these cells which profoundly change their behaviour. It has become clear that cytokines not only play important roles in tissue homeostasis but also in the pathogenesis of many immune related disorders. A large body of evidence indicated that the cytokine profile, examplified by the balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory activities, is a determining factor in the progress of the immune response and the maintenance of tissue homeostasis and might provide an explanation for interindividual differences in the host immune response. A critical question to be answered is which molecular mechanism underlies the imbalance of pro-and anti-inflammatory activity in immune related disease. Clinically useful information should come from understanding the molecular regulatory steps underlying the imbalance in the cytokine profile that would allow the identification of people who display an imbalance in their cytokine profile enabling clinicians to predict outcomes and to tailor treatment.