Immunology

Cracks in the skin of eczema patients promote allergic diseases

Infants who develop eczema are more likely to develop food allergies, hay fever and asthma as they grow older, a progression known as the atopic march. Donald Leung, MD, Ph.D., head of Pediatric Allergy & Clinical Immunology ...

Medications

Using a common anticonvulsant to counteract inflammation

Serious conditions, including sepsis, stem from inflammation in the body, and there is a lack of effective medication for sepsis. A chromosomal protein called high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), secreted by immune and dying ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

New knowledge on the development of asthma

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have studied which genes are expressed in overactive immune cells in mice with asthma-like inflammation of the airways. Their results, which are published in the journal Immunity, ...

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Inflammation

Inflammation (Latin, inflamatio, to set on fire) is the complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. It is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the injurious stimuli as well as initiate the healing process for the tissue. Inflammation is not a synonym for infection. Even in cases where inflammation is caused by infection, the two are not synonymous: infection is caused by an exogenous pathogen, while inflammation is the response of the organism to the pathogen.

In the absence of inflammation, wounds and infections would never heal and progressive destruction of the tissue would compromise the survival of the organism. However, an inflammation that runs unchecked can also lead to a host of diseases, such as hay fever, atherosclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is for that reason that inflammation is normally closely regulated by the body.

Inflammation can be classified as either acute or chronic. Acute inflammation is the initial response of the body to harmful stimuli and is achieved by the increased movement of plasma and leukocytes from the blood into the injured tissues. A cascade of biochemical events propagates and matures the inflammatory response, involving the local vascular system, the immune system, and various cells within the injured tissue. Prolonged inflammation, known as chronic inflammation, leads to a progressive shift in the type of cells which are present at the site of inflammation and is characterised by simultaneous destruction and healing of the tissue from the inflammatory process.

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