What Occurs in Body Tissue When Inflammation Persists?

What occurs in body tissue when Inflammation persists?   Let’s look at the cascade of events that takes place from the perspective of a body cell.

Suppose you are a body cell humming along “doing life” in a reasonably healthy way. You have a lot of close neighbors like yourself and there is just enough space between you and your neighbors for blood and lymph capillaries to “snug up” to your cell membrane so that the artery capillaries can deliver oxygen and “groceries” constantly and the vein and lymph capillaries can pick up wastes and debris and carry it away efficiently.

A depiction of the "healthy dry state" (A) and the "disease or wet state" in tissue between a blood vessel and a lymph vessel

A depiction of the “healthy dry state” (A) and the “disease or wet state”(B) in a section of body tissue between an artery and a vein capillary (note the valves).   There are also lymph vessels trying to drain the area and the “wet state” impedes them.

There’s just enough fluid in the space between you and your close neighbors to fill the crevices there but not to separate you so that those tiny capillaries float away from your surface. You are living in the “dry state” or “healthy state” described by Dr. Arthur C Guyton since 1961 in his much used Textbook of Medical Physiology. In this “dry or healthy state”, you can use the oxygen to convert the glucose (groceries) to an energy molecule called ATP which you use to drive some neat little protein pumps within your cell membrane. These pumps are commonly called the “Sodium-Potassium Pumps” and you, like every other cell, have many in your membrane because they constantly move sodium and potassium positive ions back and forth between your inside and your outside space generating electrical energy.

All life processes are electrical and both you and the body you live in need this energy. Of course we have seen that chemistry is involved in generating the necessary electricity with the sodium-potassium pump as the mechanism where chemistry generates electricity. Youtube has some neat video animations of this pump. Two good ones are http://youtu.be/JYRjC0VryeY and http://youtu.be/Z9tPTDRjCYU and both have  simple audio explanations. So, as a body cell, you happily maintain your life processes and do your job as long as you get the steady supply of oxygen and glucose and some other needs like nutrients, minerals, hormones, etc. that the blood normally delivers.

It’s critically important, also, that the fluid between you and neighboring cells is kept minimal and constantly washing in from blood capillaries and out by lymph capillaries. It is also essential that blood proteins (large molecules which hold water in the blood) don’t accumulate and “glob together” in the fluid between you and your neighbors so that the lymph system won’t be able to evacuate them. If the blood proteins get trapped there, they mess up a cell’s life by attracting and holding extra fluid between you and your neighbors which changes the “dry or healthy state” to the “wet or disease state”. Basically, inflammation begins to take hold if the extra fluid and blood proteins “stagnate” around you.

Your life as a cell becomes chaos because you can’t get your oxygen, “groceries”, hormones, etc. deliveries and you can’t get rid of toxins and wastes. Your energy generation is shut down as the sodium-potassium pumps don’t get supplies. You can’t metabolize glucose without adequate oxygen so, in desperation, you try anaerobic fermentation of stored sugar, which discharges acid into the fluid around you. If you don’t die a painful death, you might turn against the body you live in and start secreting chemicals to stimulate blood vessels to rapidly grow toward you  and your neighborhood just might become tumor tissue parasitically living off surrounding tissue. Your reproductive blueprint, by now, may be so defiled you just replicate out of control thumbing your nose at natural killer cells  (like NK cells)and the “cell suicide” mechanisms (like apoptosis) aimed at commonly occurring “rogue cells”.

What went wrong to change the “dry or healthy state” to the “wet or unhealthy state”? You were a good honest hard working body cell “just doing your job” and you began to notice  a lot more fluid and space between you and your neighbors. Artery capillaries were making irregular and incomplete deliveries and garbage collection became undependable. You did your best to keep life processes going, but you were forced to adapt.

Why were you suddenly living in “inflamed tissue”.?  At first, you expected it would be temporary but it just kept getting worse. What fouled your “terrain”? Something like toxins, trauma, or other stress factors signaled the immune system of your body to “kick into high gear” in order to fight an ensuing “insult”. In that situation, stress response chemicals were dumped into the bloodstream along with certain other molecules. Rather than the immune response taking care of the insult/injury by overcoming the toxins and stimulating healing processes and then returning to a steady state of normal functioning, the insults continued to stimulate the immune system.  Some insult persisted that caused the inflammatory response to persist.

Therefore, “the immune system” kept dumping more chemicals like cytokines into the blood causing the vessel walls to become abnormally porous. This process allowed extra fluid and blood proteins to flow into the space between you and your neighbors. That set off the “series of phenomena” that made you unable to continue functioning normally. Now, you are basically living in an wound that won’t heal and it’s miserable. The fluid around you is acidic from the waste given off by fermentation and you are most uncomfortable because you can’t be productive like you are designed to be. If the “tumor gig” doesn’t prolong your life for a while, it’s “lights out” for you.

What about the body you live in?   Well it has some changes to make asap or it will join you because the body’s life processes originate in the cell’s life processes.

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