The resolution of inflammation: Principles and challenges

Semin Immunol. 2015 May;27(3):149-60. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2015.03.014. Epub 2015 Apr 22.


The concept that chemokines, cytokines and pro-inflammatory mediators act in a co-ordinated fashion to drive the initiation of the inflammatory reaction is well understood. The significance of such networks acting during the resolution of inflammation however is poorly appreciated. In recent years, specific pro-resolving mediators were discovered which activate resolution pathways to return tissues to homeostasis. These mediators are diverse in nature, and include specialized lipid mediators (lipoxins, resolvins, protectins and maresins) proteins (annexin A1, galectins) and peptides, gaseous mediators including hydrogen sulphide, a purine (adenosine), as well as neuromodulator release under the control of the vagus nerve. Functionally, they can act to limit further leukocyte recruitment, induce neutrophil apoptosis and enhance efferocytosis by macrophages. They can also switch macrophages from classical to alternatively activated cells, promote the return of non-apoptotic cells to the lymphatics and help initiate tissue repair mechanisms and healing. Within this review we highlight the essential cellular aspects required for successful tissue resolution, briefly discuss the pro-resolution mediators that drive these processes and consider potential challenges faced by researchers in the quest to discover how inflammation resolves and why chronic inflammation persists.

Keywords: Efferocytosis; Microvesicles; NETs; Resolution of inflammation; Retrograde chemotaxis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / immunology
  • Cell Hypoxia / immunology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation Mediators / immunology*
  • Macrophage Activation / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / immunology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators