Immunometabolism: The Dynamic Interplay of Cytokines and Metabolites

Immunometabolism is the study of how metabolic processes influence immune cell functions and how immune responses, in turn, shape cellular metabolism. This field examines the roles of cytokines and metabolites, which act as signaling molecules and energy sources, respectively. Cytokines can trigger or modulate metabolic pathways in immune cells, affecting their activation, growth, and response capabilities. Similarly, metabolites provide the necessary energy and building blocks that enable immune cells to proliferate, function optimally, and sustain their activity during immune responses. This dynamic interplay is crucial for maintaining health and combating disease. Together, cytokines and metabolites orchestrate a complex network that links metabolic health with immune competence on a systemic and cellular level. This blog discusses how cytokines and metabolites not only influence but also drive immune cell functions, revealing new avenues for therapeutic interventions across a range of diseases.

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Understanding Inflammation: A Faster, Easier Way to Detect Cytokines in Cells

Inflammation, a process that was meant to defend our body from infection, has been found to contribute to a wide range of diseases, such as chronic inflammation, neurodegenerative disorders—and more recently, COVID-19. The development of new tools and methods to measure inflammation is crucial to help researchers understand these diseases.

This diagram shows how the Lumit™ Immuno assay can be used to detect cytokines.

Cytokines—small signaling molecules that regulate inflammation and immunity—have recently become the focus of inflammation research due to their role in causing severe COVID-19 symptoms. In these severe cases, the patient’s immune system responds to the infection with uncontrolled cytokine release and immune cell activation, called the “cytokine storm”. Although the cytokine storm can be treated using established drugs, more research is needed to understand what causes this severe immune response and why only some patients develop it.

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The Cytokine Storm: Why Some COVID-19 Cases Are More Severe


Blog Updated on June 16, 2020

One of the biggest outstanding questions of the COVID-19 pandemic is why symptoms vary so much among patients. Some patients have no symptoms at all; some symptoms are mild, while others are extremely severe. Among the more severe cases, a common pattern of disease progression happens like this: A patient gets through the first week with some signs of recovery—then suddenly they rapidly deteriorate. In some cases, they go from needing just a tiny bit of oxygen to requiring a ventilator within 24 hours.

This pattern, often seen in young and otherwise healthy patients, has baffled doctors. What causes these patients to suddenly crash? Research now suggests that the patient’s own immune system may be to blame. It’s called cytokine release syndrome—also known as the “cytokine storm”.

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