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This article updates on the concept that muscle-derived cytokines (myokines) play important roles in muscle health and disease.Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is released from normal skeletal muscle in response to exercise, mediating both anti-inflammatory responses and metabolic adaptations, actions contradictory to the prevailing view that IL-6 is a proinflammatory cytokine that is inducing and propagating disease. The anti-inflammatory effects of IL-6 result from its trans-membrane signalling capability, via membrane-bound receptors, whereas its proinflammatory effects result instead from signalling via the soluble IL-6 receptor and gp130. IL-15 is elevated following exercise, promoting muscle fibre hypertrophy in some circumstances, while inducing fibre apoptosis in others. This functional divergence appears because of variations in expression of IL-15 receptor isoforms. Decorin, a recently described myokine, is also elevated following exercise in normal muscle, and promotes muscle fibre hypertrophy by competitively binding to, and thus inhibiting, myostatin, a negative regulator of muscle protein synthesis. Exercise-induced myostatin downregulation thus promotes muscle fibre growth, prompting recent trials of a biological myostatin inhibitor in inclusion body myositis.Myokines appear to exert diverse beneficial effects, though their mechanistic roles in myositis and other myopathologies remain poorly understood.