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 a 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.

inflammatory cells

This picture shows inflammatory cells in the stomach.

Types of inflammatory cells

Types of inflammatory cells include neutrophils, eosinophils, lymphocytes, plasma cells, and histiocytes. Each one of these types of cells has a unique role to play in the body’s defense system.  For example, neutrophils and eosinophils play a more active role in the body’s early or acute response to an infection or injury. In contrast, lymphocytes, plasma cells, and histiocytes typically play a more active role in the prolonged or chronic response to infection or injury.

Stages of inflammation

Acute inflammation

Inflammation is divided into two stages. The first stage is called acute inflammation. This stage starts shortly after the infection or injury has occurred and usually only lasts for a couple days. However, this stage can continue for a longer period of time if the situation that caused the inflammation 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 infections, 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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