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chemical mediators of inflammation

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This vast group are molecules produced for inter- and intracellular signalling.

They are intimately involved in the inflammatory and immune responses as both effectors and a means of co-ordinating the level of activity. Their interaction is undoubtedly complex and poorly understood. It is important to emphasise that in vitro activity does not necessarily equate with a role in vivo.

One means of classifying them is by tissue of origin:

  • plasma-derived: inactive precursors produced in liver and circulate as plasma proteins. Activated by binding specific substance which then trigger proteolysis of the next plasma protein in sequence. Examples include:
    • kinin system
    • clotting system
    • fibrinolytic system
    • complement cascade

  • tissue-derived: a diverse range of substances whose release is triggered by a number of stimuli e.g. direct injury, neurogenic stimuli, immune mechanisms or other inflammatory mediators. Examples include:
    • vasoactive amines: histamine and serotonin
    • eicosanoids - arachidonic acid metabolites
    • acute phase proteins
    • platelet activating factor
    • lysosomal constituents
    • cytokines
    • growth factors


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