Cytokine storm

potentially fatal immune reaction

A cytokine storm is an overreaction of the body's immune system. It can be deadly. It consists of a positive feedback loop between cytokines and immune cells.[1]

It is believed that cytokine storms were responsible for many of the deaths during the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed a disproportionate number of young adults.[1] In this case, a healthy immune system may have been a liability rather than an asset. Preliminary research results from Hong Kong also suggest this as the probable reason for many deaths during the SARS epidemic in 2003.[2] Human deaths from the bird flu H5N1 usually involve cytokine storms as well.[3]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Osterholm, Michael T. (2005). "Preparing for the next pandemic". New England Journal of Medicine. 352 (18): 1839–1842. doi:10.1056/NEJMp058068. PMID 15872196. S2CID 45893174.
  2. Huang KJ; et al. (2005). "An interferon-gamma-related cytokine storm in SARS patients". Journal of Medical Virology. 75 (2): 185–94. doi:10.1002/jmv.20255. PMC 7166886. PMID 15602737.
  3. Haque A, Hober D, Kasper LH (2007). "Confronting potential influenza A (H5N1) pandemic with better vaccines". Emerging Infectious Diseases. 13 (10): 1512–8. doi:10.3201/eid1310.061262. PMC 2851514. PMID 18258000.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)