Common Vocabulary Used in the Often Confusing World of Inflammation and Inflammatory Disease.
Any of a large number of cell-surface molecules of several different classes that affect the attachment of one cell to another.
A potentially fatal build up of a blood protein in vital organs.
An energy-requiring biochemical process that synthesizes complex molecules from simpler reactants.
A special protein produced by the body’s immune system that recognizes and helps fight infectious agents, such as a virus or bacterium, and other foreign substances that invade the body.
A foreign substance that triggers the production of antibodies when it is introduced into the body.
The inflammation of a joint.
An antibody that attaches to the body’s own healthy tissues by mistake and signals the body to destroy them.
Disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys body tissue that it believes to be foreign.
A disease that results when the innate immune system causes inflammation for unknown reasons.
A cell produced by the bone marrow that becomes either a memory cell or a plasma cell that forms antibodies against a foreign substance.
Tiny, one-celled organism that reproduces by cell division and can be found in virtually any environment.
Type of white blood cell that contains inflammatory mediators such as histamine.
Molecule that causes white blood cells such as neutrophils and monocytes to move throughout the body (e.g., toward an injury) via the process of chemotaxis.
Movement of a cell toward or away from a chemical substance.
A fatty substance that higher organisms use in the construction of cell membranes and as an ingredient for making steroid molecules; it is carried through the bloodstream in molecules called lipoproteins.
Compensatory Anti-Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CARS)
Condition that develops in some resuscitated injured patients when the body compensates in an effort to stop inflammation.
Set of molecules in the blood activated by the presence of bacteria, injury, or other immune triggers, causing a range of responses associated with starting and maintaining inflammation.
Cortisol (also called hydrocortisone)
A steroid hormone, more specifically a glucocorticoid, produced by the zona fasciculata of the adrenal cortex. It is released in response to stress and a low level of blood glucocorticoids. Its primary functions are to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis; suppress the immune system; and aid in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.
C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
Protein not normally found at high levels in the blood of healthy people, but when present it indicates inflammation.
A protein involved in regulating inflammation and programmed cell death.
Molecule that controls reactions among cells; key component of inflammation.
Layer of skin just beneath the epidermis; it is composed of connective tissue and blood vessels.
Swelling caused by the excessive accumulation of fluid in body tissues.
Arising within the body or derived from the body.
Poison in bacterial outer membranes that is harmful to the body.
Amoeba-like scavenger leukocyte (white blood cell) that disposes of cellular debris; often involved in allergic responses.
Outer, “epithelial,” layer of skin.
One of the closely packed cells in a thin layer that covers the internal and external surfaces of the body, including body cavities, ducts, and vessels.
Originating outside the body.
An unstable molecule that reacts quickly with other atoms and molecules and can cause damage to living tissues.
All the genetic material in the chromosomes of a particular organism.
Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor; a growth factor that stimulates the growth and division of precursors of granulocytes, monocytes, and macrophages.
Molecule released especially during an allergic response that causes smooth muscle contraction, inflammation, mucus secretion, and other allergy symptoms.
Bottom layer of skin, below the dermis.
The body’s system for protection against infection and disease. It involves a complex network of specialized immune cells, antibodies, other molecules, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses.
Involves an act that reduces the activation or efficacy of the immune system. Some portions of the immune system itself have immuno-suppressive effects on other parts of the immune system, and immunosuppression may occur as an adverse reaction to treatment of other conditions.
Innate Immune System
The part of the immune system that is more primitive. It employs types of white blood cells called granulocytes and monocytes to destroy harmful substances.
Infection (Bacterial or Viral)
Invasion of the body by harmful microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites.
Disease transmitted by microorganisms.
The immediate, defensive reaction to any injury.
Molecule inside or outside the body that plays a role in inflammation.
A hormone produced in the pancreas that helps control levels of sugars, fats, and proteins in the body.
Molecule (protein) produced by virally infected cells that helps the body fight off viral infections.
One of a class of inflammatory mediators.
White blood cell; acts as a part of the immune system by destroying invading cells and removing cellular debris.
Poison in bacterial outer membranes that is harmful to the body.
Type of leukocyte (white blood cell) that mainly resides in lymphatic tissue (e.g., the lymph nodes) and is active in immune responses, including the production of antibodies; two types include B-cells and T-cells.
Type of large leukocyte (white blood cell) that uses a process called phagocytosis to eat bacteria and digest cellular debris; during inflammation, develops the ability to produce inflammatory molecules.
Type of leukocyte (white blood cell) found in connective tissues that produces histamine and other inflammatory molecules.
Type of leukocyte (white blood cell) that engulfs and breaks down debris and invading cells; can mature into a macrophage cell.
Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome (MODS)
Progressive failure of several interdependent organ systems that can be a consequence of the systemic inflammation following severe injury.
Autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own nervous system, destroying the myelin sheath that protects nerve cells.
A protein that covers and acts as an electrical insulator for nerve fibers.
A nerve cell; it receives and conducts electrical impulses from the brain; it consists of a cell body, an axon, axon terminals, and dendrites.
Type of leukocyte (white blood cell) that travels through the blood to an injured site via a process called chemotaxis.
A highly reactive gas that is involved in a wide array of biological functions and functions as a part of the body’s immune system.
Microorganism that causes disease.
Particle (pinched off from cell called a megakaryocyte) found in the bloodstream that initiates the blood clotting process.
Any of a class of hormone-like molecules that participate in diverse body functions including inflammation; their production is blocked by NSAIDs.
A large molecule encoded by a gene; they are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s cells, tissues, and organs; examples include hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.
All the proteins made by a cell, organ, or organism at a particular time and under specific conditions.
A protein involved in regulating inflammation.
Amplified, body-wide inflammatory response to traumatic injury, severe bleeding, or an infection caused by microorganisms like bacteria or fungi; typical symptoms include fever, mental confusion, a drop in blood pressure, and lung and kidney failure.
Inflammation throughout the body.
Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS)
The syndrome of systemic inflammatory response to a major injury.
A type of cell produced by the thymus that plays a major role in immune reactions.
Toll-Like Receptor (TLR)
Molecule on cell surfaces that helps the body sense the presence of endotoxin and other microbial products, and sends an alert to the immune system
Trauma (Physical Trauma)
Wound or injury caused by a physical force; examples include the consequences of motor vehicle accidents, falls, drowning, gunshots, fires and burns, and stabbings.
Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1; One of a number of molecules on the surface of endothelial cells that controls cell adhesion and movement.
Infectious agent composed of a protein coat around a DNA or RNA core; to reproduce, viruses depend on living cells.