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What are ‘Cytokine storms’? Discuss its effect on body’s immune system.

Topic:  Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

4. What are ‘Cytokine storms’? Discuss its effect on body’s immune system.(250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why this question:

The article presents a detailed discussion of what is the cytokine storm and how is it triggered when a virus (or antigen) enters the body for the first time? How does the body’s immune system work? Thus the question.

Key demand of the question:

Explain the concept of cytokine storms and discuss its effect on body’s immune system.


Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:


Define what cytokines are – Cytokines are a class of immune regulatory proteins that are secreted by the cells especially of the immune system.


Explain what a Cytokine Storm Syndrome is   – it a form of Systematic Inflammatory Response Syndrome that can be triggered by a variety of factors such as infections and certain drugs. It occurs when large number of white blood cells are activated and release inflammatory cytokines which in turn activate yet more white blood cells. Move on to explain Role of Cytokine storm in the human immune system. Present the case of COVID-19 patient, explain the effect in detail.


Conclude with the fact that cytokine is seen as a likely major cause of mortality in both 1918-20 spanish flue that killed more than 50 million people worldwide. And H1N1(swine flue) and H5N1 (bird flu) outbreaks in recent years.