Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Interleukin, schminterleukin: Inflammatory Language No.2

Flasks by Skycaptaintwo 2006
There are many chemicals involved in inflammation. Some chemicals are released by injured cells and travel through the body causing immune cells to “come-on-over” or take action. The immune cells either navigate to the site of injury or act by releasing more chemicals, called cytokines. A cytokine (chemical from a cell) like interleukin is released from various cells such as leukocytes, monocytes, B cells, T cells, and etcetera. It acts by causing many reactions such as inflammation, neutrophil maturation, fever, or may try to inhibit further reactions. The interleukin may act by recruiting other cells to join in the perceived “fight,” or try to slow-down or stop the reactions all-together.

There are many interleukins (35 proteins and counting) with various functions within the immune system. Starting at the beginning is interleukin-1 (IL-1). IL-1 comes in many types (alpha, beta…and so on). Among its extensive list of duties is to be a leader and recruiter of other cells to join in the fight, either actively or by releasing their own specific chemicals—the cytokine cascade is born and hard to stop. From IL-1’s leadership, a cycle of many things, including inflammation, results.

This diagram only begins to show the complexity of the
 cytokine cascade: from Cellular-immunity.blogspot.com

Interleukin-1-rich immune cells infiltrating the
beta-amyloid plaques seen in Alzheimer's disease;
photograph from Shaftel SS, Kyrkanides S, and
Olschowka JA, et al 
 from the University of Rochester; 2007
IL-1 would be ineffective if other cells didn’t have a way to respond to it. The cells that respond to IL-1 would have an IL-1 receptor. This receptor is much like a lock on a door—that opens only when a specific key is placed into it. The IL-1 receptor recognizes IL-1 and responds, allowing IL-1 access to the cell and/or its actions. One of the resulting actions is inflammation in which damage may result--depending on the location and extent of inflammation.



To stop the inflammation born by IL-1 is tricky, and not always necessary. Just stopping IL-1 is like stopping one wheel on a massive semi—not real effective in slowing its actions down. A multi-prong approach to stopping inflammation is needed. It is important to note here that IL-1 is not the only inflammatory cytokine.

Some research looking at the role of IL-1 in inflammation and cellular damage:

Interleukin-1's role in inflammation and neuronal damage as that seen in Alzheimer's disease or atherosclerosis.

Shaftel SS, Kyrkanides S, Olschowka JA, Miller JN, Johnson RE, O'Banion MK (2007 Jun 05). Sustained hippocampal IL-1 beta overexpression mediates chronic neuroinflammation and ameliorates Alzheimer plaque pathology. J Clin Invest. 117, 1595-604.

 This is the second post of a series: Inflammatory Language.The series will briefly emphasize aspects of inflammation, mainly in response to microorganisms, but not always. You can contribute to this column by submitting 300 serious, political, scientific, or funny words (as long as they have something to do with inflammation) to me  by email, along with byline. If deemed appropriate, we'll publish it here--thank you. At some point, I may be able to offer gifts, but not yet.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Inflammatory Language No 1. The ongoing cycle

Much like trying to tack down the answer to the chicken-and-egg-thing, starting a conversation or course on inflammation is problematic. Often the dry outcome is an outlay of descriptions of the cells involved or cytokines.  This is too linear of an approach for The Febrile Muse. We are going to start by showing how inflammation is a circular cycle with multiple inputs and multiple outcomes--a macroview first.

Nothing starts inflammatory language better than Billy Joel and his smart-edgy "We Didn't Start the Fire." If you can't view on this site, here is the link:



Get this song in your head.

Now, this....


Interleukin, monocyte, whole blood cell, skin is tight
Urethritis, laryngitis, antiviral drug

Dr. Wakefield, meningitis, redness, swelling, don’t excite us
Pustule, furuncle, who pulled out the rug?

Histamine, fungus, cytokine, yellow pus
Coughing, Alzheimer’s plague, he just had a heart attack

Remodeling, Roceph, patient with TNF
Differential, antibody, antibiotic

The cycle of inflammation
it’s always running
And we keep on learning
‘bout the cycle of inflammation
What got it started and
How do we stop it

Paul de Kruif, Leeuwenhoek, Pasteur and Methnikoff
Edward Jenner, Koch and Erlich, soap, water, rinse it off

TB, parasite, Alex Flemming, agar
Arthur Ashe and Magic, baby’s got bad asthma

Extravasation, NSAIDS, cortisone, reaction
Pneumonitis, inhaler, bronchitis, with pallor

Lupus, arthritic, city epidemic
Panic, virus, face mask, it’s allergenic

The cycle of inflammation
it’s always running
And we keep on learning
‘bout the cycle of inflammation
What got it started and
How do we stop it

Cystitis, exudate, macrophages, propagate
Cascade, renegade, acute or chronic, protein

Foreign body, bad germs, chemicals and bad burns
Radiate, pathogen, we will need more oxygen

Hot to touch, fever, sepsis and anemia
Neutrophil, histocytes, got to take my pill

Mast cell, mediator, ate a toxin, see you later
Vomit, clotting, complement and kinin

The cycle of inflammation
it’s always running
And we keep on learning
‘bout the cycle of inflammation
What got it started and
How do we stop it

Polio, wheezing, spread the germs by sneezing
Sniffles, headache, one system is innate

Adaptive immunity, it remembers all it sees
Antigen, DNA, wish this cold would go away!

Nitric oxide, enzymes, interferon, lysozyme
Lipids, cells walls, gees—I will forget it all

Celiac, sarcoid, she’s got a positive node
Reperfusion, acne, transplant, myopathy

The cycle of inflammation
it’s always running
And we keep on learning
‘bout the cycle of inflammation
What got it started and
How do we stop it

Penicillin, quinine, quinolone, betadine
HPV and cancer, ID doctor’s on the line

Benadryl, loratidine, what do all these numbers mean?
Fever curve, blood pressure, Bell’s palsy of the cranial nerve

B12 and vitamin D, ANC and CRP
Encephalitis, UA, insulin and malaise

Scaring and abcess, this is one whole bloody mess!
Resolution, Stop it! I have had enough of it.

The cycle of inflammation
it’s always running
And we keep on learning
‘bout the cycle of inflammation
What got it started and
How do we stop it

The cycle of inflammation
It’s supposed to help us
But it goes on and on and on and on…..


I hope Billy Joel would approve--for science-sake. Perhaps we'll get lucky and he will contribute a video of himself at the piano singing The Febrile Muse's version--I'd split the profits with him and give half to local science/literacy programs for kids.


This is the first post of a series: Inflammatory Language. It will briefly emphasize aspects of inflammation, mainly in response to microorganisms, but not always. You can contribute to this column by submitting 300 serious, political, scientific, or funny words (as long as they have something to do with inflammation) to me  by email, along with byline. If deemed appropriate, we'll publish it here--thank you. At some point, I may be able to offer gifts, but not yet.

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