Inflammation's stop signals

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Science  02 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6217, pp. 18-21
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6217.18

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Researchers used to think that inflammation, one of the body's key reactions to infection and injury, gradually faded out once the triggering stimulus was removed. But scientists have now discovered a group of molecules that actively end inflammation. These so-called proresolving molecules include four groups of lipids—lipoxins, protectins, maresins, and resolvins—as well as proteins and other types of compounds. Proresolving molecules counteract several of the steps involved in inflammation, including movement of immune cells into the injured tissue. They also promote healing, quell pain, and may be essential for recovery from infectious diseases. Researchers are now working to put these molecules to use. Clinical trials have already evaluated proresolving molecules' ability to soothe eye and skin inflammation. Trials under way or about to start soon will test their powers against postsurgical eye inflammation and gingivitis, a type of gum inflammation that can lead to tooth loss.