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Part of the difficulty with distinguishing cytokines from hormones is that some of the immunomodulating effects of cytokines are systemic rather than local.
For instance, to use hormone terminology, the action of cytokines may be autocrine or paracrine in chemotaxis or chemokinesis and endocrine as a pyrogen.
Several inflammatory cytokines are induced by oxidative stress.
and also lead to increased oxidative stress makes them important in chronic inflammation, as well as other immunoresponses, such as fever and acute phase proteins of the liver (IL-1,6,12, IFN-a).
However, more research is needed in this area of defining cytokines and hormones.
Cytokines include chemokines, interferons, interleukins, lymphokines, and tumour necrosis factors but generally not hormones or growth factors (despite some overlap in the terminology).
Cytokines are produced by a broad range of cells, including immune cells like macrophages, B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes and mast cells, as well as endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and various stromal cells; a given cytokine may be produced by more than one type of cell.
Subsequent cascades of intracellular signalling then alter cell functions.
This may include the upregulation and/or downregulation of several genes and their transcription factors, resulting in the production of other cytokines, an increase in the number of surface receptors for other molecules, or the suppression of their own effect by feedback inhibition.