The skin is an intricate network of cells engaged in various levels of communication at all times. The most prevalent molecules responsible for this communication are cytokines. Cytokines are proteins, or peptides, that function as biological messengers.
For the skin care practitioner, this article is an introduction the concept of cellular communication, and specifically cytokines. Cell-to-cell communication is emerging as an exciting area in cosmetic product development. Peptides, stem cell technologies, botanicals, vitamins and even less active cosmetic ingredients all have the capacity to positively or negatively affect the skin.
Cytokines are water-soluble chemical compounds that are not stored in the body, but are made as needed for a particular function. There are three individual types of cytokines: autocrine, paracrine and endocrine. An autocrine acts on the cell that produces it. Paracrines act on nearby cells and endocrines act at a long-distance within the body.