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Once upon a time, inflammation

Jean-Marc Cavaillon1 [ + show more ]

J Venom Anim Toxins incl Trop Dis, 2021, 27:e20200147
Received: 11 October 2020 | Accepted: 26 January 2021 | Published online: 09 April 2021
Collection: Inflammation: from bench to bedside


Inflammation has accompanied humans since their first ancestors appeared on Earth. Aulus Cornelius Celsus (25 BC-50 AD), a Roman encyclopedist, offered a still valid statement about inflammation: “Notae vero inflammationis sunt quatuor: rubor et tumor cum calore and dolore”, defining the four cardinal signs of inflammation as redness and swelling with heat and pain. While inflammation has long been considered as a morbid phenomenon, John Hunter (18th century) and Elie Metchnikoff (19th century) understood that it was a natural and beneficial event that aims to address a sterile or an infectious insult. Many other famous scientists and some forgotten ones have identified the different cellular and molecular players, and deciphered the different mechanisms of inflammation. This review pays tribute to some of the giants who made major contributions, from Hippocrates to the late 19th and first half of the 20th century. We particularly address the discoveries related to phagocytes, diapedesis, chemotactism, and fever. We also mention the findings of the various inflammatory mediators and the different approaches designed to treat inflammatory disorders.


Keywords: Historical review; Inflammation; Fever; Phagocytosis; Diapedesis; Antiseptics; Antibiotics.

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