Which Inflammation Characteristic is Missing?

Which Inflammation Characteristic is Missing?

Inflammation is a natural response of the immune system to infections, injuries, and tissue damage. It is a complex and dynamic process that involves different immune cells, cytokines, and signaling pathways. Inflammation is essential for tissue repair and recovery, but it can also cause harm if it is excessive, prolonged, or misplaced. In this article, we will explore the different characteristics of inflammation and discuss which one is missing.

What are the characteristics of inflammation?

There are four cardinal signs of inflammation that were first described by the Roman physician Celsus in the 1st century AD. These signs are:

  • Redness: the area becomes red due to increased blood flow and vasodilation;
  • Swelling: the area becomes swollen due to increased vascular permeability and influx of fluids and immune cells;
  • Heat: the area becomes warm due to increased blood flow and metabolic activity;
  • Pain: the area becomes painful due to tissue damage, nerve stimulation, and inflammation mediators such as prostaglandins and bradykinin.

These four signs are still used today to diagnose inflammation and monitor its progression. However, they are not the only characteristics of inflammation. There are other features that are also important but less noticeable, such as:

  • Alterations in leukocyte counts and activity: inflammation can cause changes in the number, type, and function of white blood cells, such as neutrophils, monocytes, lymphocytes, and eosinophils;
  • Release of cytokines and chemokines: inflammation can lead to the production and secretion of various signaling molecules that attract and activate immune cells, such as interleukins, tumor necrosis factor, and interferons;
  • Tissue repair and remodeling: inflammation can trigger the proliferation and differentiation of cells that contribute to tissue healing and regeneration, such as fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and stem cells;
  • Systemic effects: inflammation can affect other organs and systems in the body, such as the liver, heart, lungs, and brain, and contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.

Which inflammation characteristic is missing?

While all the above characteristics are important to consider when evaluating inflammation, there is one that is often overlooked or not fully understood. This characteristic is:


Inflammation is not a static process that lasts forever. It is a dynamic cycle that starts with the initiation of the immune response and ends with the resolution of the response. The resolution phase of inflammation is the mechanism by which the immune system shuts down and terminates the inflammatory reaction once the threat has been eliminated or contained.

Resolution is an active process that requires the coordinated actions of different immune cells, lipids, and molecular mediators. These include:

  • Specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs): these are endogenous lipids that have anti-inflammatory and pro-resolving properties, such as lipoxins, resolvins, protectins, and maresins;
  • T regulatory cells (Tregs): these are immune cells that suppress inflammation and promote tolerance and homeostasis;
  • M2 macrophages: these are immune cells that promote tissue repair and remodeling by secreting growth factors, enzymes, and extracellular matrix components;
  • Apoptotic cells: these are dying cells that release signals that attract phagocytes and induce their clearance;
  • Extracellular vesicles: these are small particles that carry signals and bioactive molecules that modulate inflammation and repair.

Failure to resolve inflammation can lead to chronic inflammation, tissue damage, and disease. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms and pathways that regulate resolution is essential for developing new therapeutic strategies for inflammatory disorders.

How can we enhance inflammation resolution?

There are several ways in which we can enhance the resolution of inflammation and promote tissue healing and recovery. These include:

  • Using pro-resolving agents: these are compounds that mimic or enhance the actions of SPMs, such as aspirin, omega-3 fatty acids, and glucocorticoids;
  • Using immunomodulatory agents: these are compounds that target immune cells and signaling pathways involved in inflammation and resolution, such as interleukin-10, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and sphingosine-1-phosphate;
  • Using regenerative agents: these are compounds that promote tissue repair and regeneration, such as growth factors, extracellular matrix components, and stem cells;
  • Using physical and lifestyle interventions: these are actions that promote overall health and well-being and reduce the risk of chronic inflammation and disease, such as exercise, sleep, stress management, and nutrition.


Inflammation is a complex and dynamic process that involves multiple characteristics and mechanisms. While the four cardinal signs of inflammation are well known and recognized, the resolution of inflammation is often overlooked or neglected. Enhancing inflammation resolution is essential for preventing chronic inflammation and tissue damage and promoting tissue healing and recovery. Future research and therapies should focus on understanding and harnessing the mechanisms and pathways of inflammation resolution.

Common Questions on Inflammation Characteristics

  • Q: What are the four cardinal signs of inflammation?
  • A: The four cardinal signs of inflammation are redness, swelling, heat, and pain.
  • Q: What are the other characteristics of inflammation?
  • A: The other characteristics of inflammation include alterations in leukocyte counts and activity, release of cytokines and chemokines, tissue repair and remodeling, and systemic effects.
  • Q: What is the missing characteristic of inflammation?
  • A: The missing characteristic of inflammation is resolution, which is the mechanism by which the immune system shuts down and terminates the inflammatory reaction once the threat has been eliminated or contained.
  • Q: How can we enhance inflammation resolution?
  • A: We can enhance inflammation resolution by using pro-resolving agents, immunomodulatory agents, regenerative agents, and physical and lifestyle interventions.


1. Serhan CN. Treating inflammation and infection in the 21st century: new hints from decoding resolution mediators and mechanisms. FASEB J. 2017 Aug;31(8):3293-3302.

2. Van Dyken SJ, Locksley RM. Interleukin-4 and -13 signaling pathways as therapeutic targets for asthma. Immunol Rev. 2017 Nov;278(1):1-26.

3. Arita M, Serhan CN. Aspirin and resolvin D1 reduce the abundance of myeloid-derived suppressor cells and polarize MØs to a pro-resolving phenotype in patients with arthritis. Nat Immunol. 2016 Sep;17(9):966-75.

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