Describe the factors involved in the process of inflammation and the immune response, including innate and acquired immunity

Inflammation is a non-specific response triggered by a pathogen or tissue injury, which aims to limit further tissue damage.

Inflammation is classically characterised by:

  • Pain
  • Heat
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Loss of function

This is a consequence of:

  • Vasodilation
    Increases blood flow to area, which increases supply of immune cells and resources for cellular repair.
  • Increased vascular permeability
    Increases extravasation of protein and immune cells.
  • Migration of phagocytes
    Remove pathogens and cellular debris.

Process of Inflammation

  • Tissue damage
    • Trauma causes mechanical disruption of vasculature and mast cell degranulation, causing local inflammation and activation of haemostatic mechanisms
    • Infection stimulates degranulation of local macrophages, releasing inflammatory cytokines and triggering mast cell degranulation
  • Local inflammatory response
    • Histamine causes arteriolar and post-capillary venule dilatation and subsequent extravasation
    • Release of chemotactic molecules attracts circulating inflammatory cells
  • Systemic inflammatory response
    Severe inflammation may lead to cytokines in the systemic circulation, causing:
    • Fever
    • Neutrophil recruitment from bone marrow
    • Release of acute-phase proteins from liver


  1. Chambers D, Huang C, Matthews G. Basic Physiology for Anaesthetists. Cambridge University Press. 2015.
Last updated 2018-09-21

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