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Inflammation's infamy

Courtesy of Keith Crutcher IMMUNITY IN MIND: Cultured microglial (N9) cells (red) on a tissue section containing an Alzheimer plaque (green). There is continuing controversy about whether these types of inflammatory cells are responding to plaques or causing them. A finger catches the sharp edge of an envelope; a noseful of tree pollen is accidentally inhaled; the latest virus finds host after human host. In all cases the assaulted body reacts through inflammation, a well known, but not

Karen Kreeger
Courtesy of Keith Crutcher
 IMMUNITY IN MIND: Cultured microglial (N9) cells (red) on a tissue section containing an Alzheimer plaque (green). There is continuing controversy about whether these types of inflammatory cells are responding to plaques or causing them.

A finger catches the sharp edge of an envelope; a noseful of tree pollen is accidentally inhaled; the latest virus finds host after human host. In all cases the assaulted body reacts through inflammation, a well known, but not well defined process, especially its molecular cascade of events. These events are orchestrated by chemokines and the other biochemicals of innate immunity, eventually engaging downstream immune cells and antigens involved with adaptive immunity. A person is born with an innate immune system, whereas acquired immunity is developed through lifelong contact with pathogens.

Usually, inflamed tissue heals quickly, end of story. But when things go awry, the downstream immunological events, both innate and...

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