Inflammation and Inflammatory Markers. The Immune System Role, Oxidative Stress.

By ancavasculitis.com

Inflammation is a natural response of the immune system to an attack from the external environment, this can come from an invader as a microorganism, virus or bacteria or parasite, from an antigen or an allergen, from a toxin, or a chemical compound. Any foreign body that attacks the human body is considered a threat to which the immune system reacts in diverse ways and with different fighters, the fever, for example, is a body reaction to an infection, the process of response of the immune system to an invader, or to a cut or a major traumatic damage; the swelling and the redness are the evident signs of an inflammation, these are acute inflammations, they are transitory, the body reacts and we heal from those.

But inflammation can be chronic due to conditions or infections that are stable or silent from time like a root cause or a threat that we cannot define or to events that repeat in time causing progressive degeneration of the body and so more serious problems like degenerative diseases, as autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative as Alzheimer, cancer, and diabetes to mention the most common.

Inflammatory Markers

Inflammation is a complex reaction and more systems and molecules and by products are involved, there are several markers to assess for inflammation and some of these among the very common and more prescribed are: CRP, and CRP high sensitivity, Fibrinogen, ESR, and Lipo-A, but there are more especially for cardiovascular inflammation.

Let’s give a look at

Myeloperoxidase, for example, or MPO, is an enzyme that is released by macrophages (part of white blood cells) that measures body’s response to damaged artery walls that have become thin, cracked, and unstable due to cholesterol accumulation and inflammation.

The Lp-PLA2 Test measures the amount of Lp-PLA2 in the bloodstream. Lp-PLA2 is an enzyme that can assess the amount of inflammation in the arteries due to a build-up of cholesterol. The Lp-PLA2 Test can help a medical provider better understand the health of the arteries and determine if there is actively growing plaque that is at risk for rupturing and developing a heart attack or stroke.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is produced by the liver when inflammation is present somewhere in the body. Traditionally, the CRP test has been used to identify the risk for infection or chronic inflammatory conditions in general and is non-specific. A newer test available called high-sensitivity CRP, or hsCRP, measures smaller amounts of CRP in the blood and is more reliable.

Oxidized LDL is LDL cholesterol that has been modified by oxidation. Oxidized LDL triggers inflammation for causing the production of plaque in the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. Oxidized LDL may also play a role in increasing the number of triglycerides the body produces, as well as increasing the amount of fat deposited by the body.

F2-Isoprostanes are tested for oxidative stress, F2-IsoPs, so called in abbreviation, are compounds formed from arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid is required by the body to make muscles and for basic functioning. Our body can make arachidonic acid on its own, or can get it from the foods we eat, such as red meat or egg yolks. As with many things, having too much or too little arachidonic acid can be harmful to the body. Having too much arachidonic acid can increase the production of F2-IsoPs which can damage the body’s tissues and therefore contribute to the onset of chronic disease.

ADMA (asymmetric dimethylarginine) and SDMA (symmetric dimethylarginine) are compounds made in our body from degraded proteins. ADMA and SDMA reduce our body’s ability to produce nitric oxide, a molecule that helps maintain a healthy endothelium. ADMA and SDMA levels may increase with poor diet and lifestyle, elevated LDL cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, or with smoking. These are all risk factors that can damage the delicate endothelial cells that protect our vascular system.

Estimation of these inflammatory markers besides other more specific tests for suspected root cause of a problem are important steps to cool down inflammation before more dramatic changes in our bodies happen.

The Immune System Role

The immune system has a primary role has mentioned with inflammation, the immune system reactions to this are a positive thing, the attempt to repair a damage or to defend us from an invader and these are performed essentially by the white cells of the immune system which includes the lymphocytes T and B and from the coagulation system including the platelets, the coagulation factors, and molecules like thrombin and fibrin and prostaglandins.

The lymphocytes T are part of the innate or general immune system, also defined as “ non-specific”, they attack every type of germ or substance through the production of molecules like cytokines and interferons destroying the molecule or the cell; the lymphocytes B are part of the adaptive immune system, and this is more specific because acts by producing molecules like the immunoglobulins or antibodies which binds specifically to the antigens of a protein or a virus, or bacteria or whatever is the threat neutralizing it, other systems like the complement, for example, have the role to get rid of these complexes antigen-antibodies, while other white cells of englobing and phagocytizing.

An underactive immune system is vulnerable to diseases, while an overactive, instead, attacks its own tissues promoting the process of autoimmunity which is a degenerative process because the body attacks its own cells and looks like that autoimmune diseases are growing time by time with this generation.

Oxidative Stress

Oxidation is the process for body burns oxygen to produce energy, but from this process can derive free radicals which are inflammatory, antioxidants are therefore necessary to neutralize the radicals deriving from the process of oxidation, and this is why antioxidants as fruits and vegetables today are recommended in special way for all the type of problems. On the other hand, hydrogen peroxide is an antioxidantproduced by the cells of the immune system to neutralize the effects of free radicals, but in the same time hydrogen peroxide is antagonized by glutathione, the major body’s antioxidant, this happens because hydrogen peroxide in excess can be damaging and so glutathione intervenes to deplete the excess.

Glutathione is also the primary molecule in charge of breaking down harmful molecules from inflammatory foods, like sugars and unhealthy fats in harmless.

Glutathione helps the immune system to fight infections effectively, when the level drops due to intense activity of for other reasons the immune system begins to attack its own tissues causing inflammation and autoimmunity, also when glutathione level is low the body loses the ability to produce nitric oxide which is also necessary to combat infections. All of this let us realize why this molecule is so important and so mentioned.

How do we fight inflammation?

Treatment for inflammation under the integrative principles is based on lifestyle recommendations, and generally with “avoidances,” avoiding inflammatory foods as junk foods, grains, sugars, and bad fats, losing weight in excess and being active and exercising, avoiding wrong lifestyles like lack of sleep, or smoking or alcohol or drugs abuse, environmental toxins and any type of stressors including emotional and mental stressors, and with the use of antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatories.

There are a variety of these, and currently many are quite common. The most common and mentioned antioxidants are fruits and vegetables for containing molecules like phytophenols and polyphenols, and pigments like anthocyanins, and for the majority of these doctors they should be good enough to fight most of the diseases if a person is capable to follow a restrictive plant diet, but many of us cannot, for help is necessary.

Best antioxidants suggested are, glutathione and turmeric, or NAC can be used also as precursor of glutathione, but as Dr. Ben Lynch was observing recently in one of his podcasts, besides a specific dose to make glutathione, other compounds are necessary, like glutamine and glycine, therefore the benefits and effects of taking specifically glutathione are different, NAC anyway is an important molecule as well, as recommended.

Other highly effective molecules are bromelain and quercetin, or Boswellia and trans-resveratrol to mention the most common, but there are more. Bromelain can function either as digestive enzyme than as anti-inflammatory, its properties and benefits are well known, bromelain in certain doses is also capable of repairing tissues damage. We all know and recognize the importance of digestive enzymes to treat inflammation and their usage has been increasing exponentially lately. Quercetin instead is more implicated and recommended with allergy, and, during the covid period for its properties as an ionophore for zinc, the inhibiter of viral multiplication.

Additionally, also many herbs and essential oils may help with inflammation like for example, ginger, ginseng, garlic, rosemary, and basil to mention some, or essential oil like thyme, clove, fennel, and bergamot, but there are more, and the essential oils must be use carefully following directions of usage and dilutions type otherwise some of these can be very irritant for the skin or cause even more serious side effects.

To be continued

Thanks for Reading

Mariarosaria Malham


The Cleveland Heart Lab/www.knowyourrisk.com

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