With the tremendous increase in scientific knowledge about cytokines and their immune functions, it has also become clear that cytokines have systemic and local effects that are only partly related to their coordinating functions in the immune system. Thus, proinflammatory cytokines are the major endogenous mediators of anorexia and cachexia during chronic diseases. They have substantial hypermetabolic effects, which are at the core of the organism's fever reaction, and, last but not least, they are implicated in the metabolic disturbances and several other comorbidities of obesity, in particular by contributing to insulin resistance. This chapter summarises current knowledge of these effects: it describes studies including different levels of scientific analysis, from the molecular through cellular to the systemic and behavioural levels, which reveal interesting features of the role of cytokines in these phenomena.
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