Endothelial cells are strategically located at the interface between circulating blood elements and tissues. It is therefore not surprising that these cells play an important active role in immunity, inflammation and hemostasis. Cytokine molecules are used as com munication signals in the complex bidirectional interaction between leukocytes and endothelial cells. Endothelial cells represent a source of cytokines and, at the same time, a target for the action of various of these polypeptide mediators. Cytokine-induced endothelial cell responses follow discrete patterns: a program related to inflammation and thrombosis is activated by IL-1 and TNFct, while I FN-/ activates accessory cell functions. FGFs, G-CSF and GM-CSF elicit functions related to angiogenesis.

In the complexity of the activation patterns they can express, endothelial cells are reminiscent of mononuclear phagocytes: the long utilized term of 'reticuloendothelial system', although now largely abandoned, reflected the recognition of this similarity and interrelationship.

See also: Adhesion molecules; Chemokines; Colony stimulating factors; Cytokines; High endothelial venules; Integrins; Intercellular adhesion molecules: ICAM-1, ICAM-2 and ICAM-3; Interferon 7; Interleukin 1 and its receptors; Interleukin 4; Interleukin 13 and its receptor; Lymphocyte trafficking; Seiectins (CD62-E/L/P); Transforming growth factor p (TGFp); Tumor necrosis factor a.

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