|The Allergy Center|
Inflammation is the most potent effect of immune defense. Inflammation, recognized as swelling, pain, heat, and redness in tissues. Inflammation is produced by immune cells within the tissue, releasing specific mediators which control local circulation and cell activities. The ancient purpose of inflammation is to war on invading microorganisms. Thus, inflammation describes a battle-ravaged tissue.
Inflammation occurs around a skin infection like a boil, or may occur within a tendon (tendinitis), a joint (arthritis) or a vital organ. The suffix "itis" simply means inflammation. Many of the serious, unsolved diseases of modern civilization are expressions of chronic inflammatory processes. Medical therapy is often directed at controlling inflammation. Apparently, nature has provided a good protective strategy in the inflammatory process, but it goes too far too often. The pathologist recognizes different stages and patterns of inflammation from acute to chronic. Under the microscope, an inflamed tissue is invaded by a variety of immune cells. Many of the chronic and unsolved diseases which plague our civilization are inflammatory disorders.
Type IV Cell-Mediated Immune Response
Chronic inflammation is a product of the Type 4 hypersensitivity mechanisms. Cell-mediated immunity is initiated by several cell populations, including mast cells and neutrophils, and then sustained by lymphocytes. All these cells must invade a tissue space by migrating from BIN to TIN. As a tissue space becomes inflamed, neutrophils release enzymes, and a variety of mediators such platelet activating factor, and leukotrienes. This early response can be triggered by immune complexes containing food antigens and/or complement products.
Lymphocytes are activated by the secretions of other cells and are selected for specific activation by cells who present antigen to them. If the antigen matches the lymphocytes antibody receptors, they respond to antigen presentation by proliferation. The result is an expanding population of activated "clones" which, like good soldiers, do the job they were brought up to do. Some produce antibody, others secrete messenger molecules, others swarm in the local area, looking for antigens to attack. On any average day, we probably have billions of food-sensitized lymphocytes in antigen-specific clones, numbering in the thousands. If a lymphocytic network is activated by food antigens the pathogenic consequences depend on the dose, frequency, and distribution of antigen, and the location of lymphocytes. The ideas is that any part of the body can be involved in an immune skirmish. The importance of the target organ the nature and extent of problems caused by immune activity. Events in the nose will be experienced as discomfort. Events in the eye or other critical areas of the brain may be catastrophic. The net effect of sustained immune activity in any target organ is inflammation with local dysfunction, associated with systemic symptoms from immune mediators released into the bloodstream.
Lymphocytes are mobile, migratory cells. Their traffic patterns are fascinating. Lymphocyte populations activated and expanded in mucosal surfaces of GIT or the lung will leave their country of origin and wander inward to travel to other organs. After a holiday in lymph nodes, liver, or spleen, the same lymphocytes seem to wander back to their place of origin. Activated lymphocytes who wander off in other directions are carrying their antigen sensing and reacting properties from one defense unit to another. The traffic patterns of these nomadic cells must have a great deal to do with the success of immune defense and the tenuous balance between reactivity and tolerance. The distribution of the ability to recognize and react to foreign antigens, is one of the keys both to successful immunity and to the problems of allergy.
Chronic inflammation in eczema (atopic dermatitis) serves as a visible example of cell-mediated inflammation. The most important experiment to perform is to stop all food intake, replace this antigenic material with an elemental nutrient formula and await spontaneous resolution of cell-mediated inflammation in the skin over the next 2-3 weeks.