Chemokine receptors comprise a large family of seven transmembrane domain G protein-coupled receptors differentially expressed in diverse cell types. Biological activities have been most clearly defined in leukocytes, where chemokines coordinate development, differentiation, anatomic distribution, trafficking, and effector functions and thereby regulate innate and adaptive immune responses. Pharmacological analysis of chemokine receptors is at an early stage of development. Disease indications have been established in human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome and in Plasmodium vivax malaria, due to exploitation of CCR5 and Duffy, respectively, by the pathogen for cell entry. Additional indications are emerging among inflammatory and immunologically mediated diseases, but selection of targets in this area still remains somewhat speculative. Small molecule antagonists with nanomolar affinity have been reported for 7 of the 18 known chemokine receptors but have not yet been studied in clinical trials. Virally encoded chemokine receptors, as well as chemokine agonists and antagonists, and chemokine scavengers have been identified in medically important poxviruses and herpesviruses, again underscoring the importance of the chemokine system in microbial pathogenesis and possibly identifying specific strategies for modulating chemokine action therapeutically. The purpose of this review is to update current concepts of the biology and pharmacology of the chemokine system, to summarize key information about each chemokine receptor, and to describe a widely accepted receptor nomenclature system, ratified by the International Union of Pharmacology, that is facilitating clear communication in this area.
↵1 Address for correspondence: Dr. Philip M. Murphy, Laboratory of Host Defenses, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Building 10, Room 11N113, Bethesda, MD 20892. E-mail:
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