Immunology

How to equip the brake of immunity

The immune system is indispensable for defense against invading pathogens, but its aberrant activation may lead to autoimmune diseases. Regulatory T cells play a crucial role in preventing excess immune activation; mice without ...

Inflammatory disorders

Medication linked to increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease

Medications that target tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), a protein involved in inflammation, have revolutionized the management of certain autoimmune diseases, but paradoxically, these agents might provoke the development ...

Medical research

A new target for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

An article published in Experimental Biology and Medicine identifies a new target for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The study, led by Dr. Huaping Dai in the Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine ...

Medications

New method divides patients with ulcerative colitis in groups

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have found a way of using gene expression conserved across species to divide patients with the inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis into two distinct groups. The findings ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

New, noninvasive test for bowel diseases

Gut diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are increasingly prevalent worldwide, especially in industrialised countries. In 2015 alone, 250,000 people in the UK were diagnosed with IBD, and 3 million in the United ...

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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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