Acute inflammation is a recognised part of normal wound healing. However, when inflammation fails to resolve and a chronic inflammatory response is established this process can become dysregulated resulting in pathological wound repair, accumulation of permanent fibrotic scar tissue at the site of injury and the failure to return the tissue to normal function. Fibrosis can affect any organ including the lung, skin, heart, kidney and liver and it is estimated that 45% of deaths in the western world can now be attributed to diseases where fibrosis plays a major aetiological role. In this review we examine the evidence that cytokines play a vital role in the acute and chronic inflammatory responses that drive fibrosis in injured tissues. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Fibrosis: Translation of basic research to human disease.
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