Inflammation 101 is a special educational section on the nature of inflammation and the danger posed by body-wide inflammation.

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General Hospital

Injury, Inflammation and Healing: Click on the illustration for an animation

Hundreds of thousands of Americans die each year from injury and millions more are hospitalized, at an annual cost to society of more than $200 billion. People who survive serious injuries caused by burns or trauma face a long and difficult recovery period riddled with many potentially fatal complications along the way. Researchers yearn to understand the critical features that can tip the delicate balance of a severely injured body toward recovery, and those factors that cause people to die from such injuries. Identifying those factors could help guide physicians to choose the best treatment in response to a life-threatening injury.

Scientists know that one common thread in a body's reaction to a traumatic injury is inflammation. This seemingly harmless process is a necessary defense mechanism to guard against infection and help heal injury, but it can also turn into a deadly cascade of events. Excessive inflammation can lead to the body-wide response called sepsis, an unfortunately common but fatal outcome of severe burns or trauma.

What is the mechanism of inflammation and why does it cause so many deaths each year? Why does one person recover from serious injury and another die of inflammation following the injury? These are some of the major questions to be answered by new research being done under a Glue Grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Using cutting-edge techniques of molecular biology, researchers are working to understand these old questions and apply the knowledge to the treatment of inflammation when it threatens the lives of patients.

Terms highlighted in red throughout this section are linked to a glossary. Just click on the word for an explanation.

Acute Local Inflammation Systemic Inflammation

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