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Cytokines are a broad and loose category of small proteins important in cell signaling that bind to specific cell surface receptors, resulting in intracellular signaling that changes cell function. Cytokines are mostly water-soluble proteins and glycoproteins.

Cytokines can be released by a variety of cells and are particularly important in innate immune responses and adaptive immune responses. Due to their role in the immune system, cytokines are involved in immune diseases, inflammation, and infectious diseases.

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