Inflammation and the aging process: devil or angel

Nutr Rev. 2007 Dec;65(12 Pt 2):S167-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2007.tb00356.x.


Inflammation is often viewed as a pathologic mechanism leading to tissue damage and interference with function, such as the process of chronic tissue scarring or fibrosis. However, it is important to note that inflammation is a crucial component of normal tissue repair as well as being fundamental to the body's defense against infection. Considering inflammation as a "causative agent in aging" belies the underlying mechanisms whereby the acute inflammatory response is necessary for survival, and efforts to reduce and control the inflammatory response leave the host susceptible to infectious agents and improper healing. Chronic inflammation inevitably has initiating mechanisms that include immune, autoimmune, and metabolic pathways, leading to the activation and presence of the host-protective response. It is more appropriate to target the underlying initiating conditions than the inflammatory process that ensues and treat the basic mechanisms of disease rather than interfere in a very important protective mechanism of the host.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control*
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Wound Healing / physiology