Immunology

Exploring the frontiers of immunity and healing

During a 1989 lecture at the Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology, Yale School of Medicine professor Charles Janeway, MD, hypothesized the existence of an innate immune system and special receptors on immune ...

Medical research

New testing system predicts septic shock outcomes

More than 1.7 million Americans develop sepsis each year, and more than 270,000 die from it. The condition—which happens when the body has an extreme response to a bacterial or viral infection, causing a chain reaction ...

Oncology & Cancer

A new approach to averting inflammation caused by COVID-19

Severe COVID-19 illness can result in excessive inflammation throughout the body, including the lungs, heart and brain. University of Minnesota Twin Cities student Molly Gilligan recently published an article in the journal ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Liver surgery success boosted by growth hormone

Growth hormone has been identified as playing a key role in reducing inflammation and increasing survival rates following liver surgery.

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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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