All cells maintain continuous communication. Hormones derive constitutively from specialized cells to effect total body homeostasis. Conversely, cytokines are produced sporadically from almost all nucleated cells in response to surgical ischemia/septic challenge. Surgical patients are a stew of pulsating cytokines, which serve as the language between all surgically stressed somatic and myeloid cells. Therapeutic manipulation of cytokines has already generated some exhilarating success stories and some crushing disappointments. This introduction to surgically relevant cytokines is presented with the conviction that cytokine-based therapies of surgical patients will (in the future) prove as beneficial to our patients as antibiotics have in the past.
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