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A group of proteins produced by the cells of the immune system that act as chemical messengers between these cells. Cytokines include interleukin-2 (IL-2) which stimulates the growth and activation of T (lymphocytes) cells, and interleukin-4 (IL-4) which promotes antibody production. The production of certain cytokines declines as HIV infection progresses (if not taking HIV ARV treatment), inhibiting immune system function