Pathology dictionary

Inflammatory cells

What are inflammatory cells?

Inflammatory cells are part of the body’s natural defense response to injury or disease. They are part of the immune system. These cells have many roles in the body such as destroying and eliminating a disease (such as virus), calling other inflammatory cells to respond to the disease, or helping the body remember the disease so it can respond quickly should it be faced by it in the future.

Types of inflammatory cells

Each type of cell has a unique role in the body’s defense system although they all can also cause injury under certain circumstances.

Stages of inflammation

Acute inflammation

Inflammation is divided into two stages. The first stage is called acute inflammation. This stage starts shortly after the injury has occurred and usually only lasts for a couple days. However, this stage can continue for a longer period of time if the reason for the injury or disease persists. For example, acute inflammation caused by an infection can continue as long as the micro-organism causing the infection is still in the body. In some areas of the body, pathologists use the word active to describe this stage.

Types of inflammatory cells that take part in this stage include neutrophils and eosinophils.

Chronic inflammation

The second stage is called chronic inflammation. Not all injuries or diseases will cause chronic inflammation. When this stage does occur, it usually starts just as the acute inflammatory stage is ending. This stage can last for days or weeks depending on the injury or disease.

Types of inflammatory cells that take part in chronic inflammation include plasma cells, lymphocytes, and histiocytes.

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