Autocrine signalling

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Autocrine signalling is a type of cell communication, that occurs when the cell secretes a substance that is capable of provoking a reaction in itself [1].  It comes from auto-, a Greek prefix meaning 'self'[2].

The secreted molecules are known as local mediators[3], because they only affect cells in their immediate vicinity. Local mediators are also involved in paracrine cell communication, where the cell that produces the mediator and the target cell are usually different cell types[4]

An example of autocrine signalling can be found in the human immune response. T lymphocytes can stimulate their own proliferation when they detect a foreign antigen, by producing a growth hormone that they respond to[5]. The result of this is a larger population of active T lymphocytes and thus, the body is capable of mounting a more effective immune response against the invader. 

We can also see the effects of autocrine signalling in cancer. Overproduction of growth factors can lead to the formation of tumours, when cell division becomes uncontrollable due to a dysfunctional autocrine signalling pathway[6].

References

  1. Lackie, J (2010). Oxford Dictionary of Biomedicine. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. . 49.
  2. Dictionary.com
  3. Alberts, B., Johnson, A., Lewis, J., Raff, M., Roberts, K., Walter, P. (2008). Molecular Biology Of The Cell. 5th ed. New York: Garland Science. 881
  4. Alberts, B., Johnson, A., Lewis, J., Raff, M., Roberts, K., Walter, P. (2008). Molecular Biology Of The Cell. 5th ed. New York: Garland Science. 881
  5. Cooper GM. The Cell: A Molecular Approach. 2nd edition. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates; 2000. Signaling Molecules and Their Receptors.
  6. Wells, A (2006). Cell Motility in Cancer Invasion and Metastasis. The Netherlands: Springer Science and Business Media.
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