Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is an immunoregulatory cytokine, the effect of which on arresting random immune cell movement was recognized several decades ago. Despite its historic name, MIF also has a direct chemokine-like function and promotes cell recruitment. Multiple clinical studies have indicated the utility of MIF as a biomarker for different diseases that have an inflammatory component; these include systemic infections and sepsis, autoimmune diseases, cancer, and metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and obesity. The identification of functional promoter polymorphisms in the MIF gene (MIF) and their association with the susceptibility or severity of different diseases has not only served to validate MIF's role in disease development but also opened the possibility of using MIF genotype information to better predict risk and outcome. In this article, we review the clinical data of MIF and discuss its potential as a biomarker for different disease applications.
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