Injuries and infections are facts of life, and we need to deal with them. Thus, it’s not surprising we have developed efficient and magnificent sets of mechanisms that defend us from whatever is perceived as a danger, for example micro-organisms and irritant substances. Inflammation (or inflammatory response) is one of these sets of mechanisms, and not only — inflammation is our first line of defense, as well as the process that leads to repair of the damaged tissue. When the need arises, the inflammatory response stages a battle that results in the classical four signs of inflammation — swelling, redness, heat and pain — with the final goal of eliminating the threat and bring us back to health.
The classical four signs of inflammation result from the coordinated action of different types of white blood cells, mostly macrophages, monocytes and neutrophils. These cells communicate with each other, and with the surrounding cells and tissues, through messenger molecules called cytokines and chemokines. Cytokines cause the dilation of small blood vessels and changes in their walls — because of these changes, monocytes and neutrophils, as well as proteins and fluid, move from the blood into the damaged tissue, leading to swelling, redness, heat and pain. Macrophages, monocytes and neutrophils help to get rid of any irritant substances and dangerous micro-organisms (pathogens).
The role of inflammation, therefore, is to eliminate whatever represents a danger, limit tissue damage, and finally resolve it. Sometimes, however, inflammation becomes long-lasting (chronic). Chronic inflammation has the opposite effect — instead of resolving tissue damage, it leads to tissue degeneration. Chronic inflammation is low-grade, has systemic rather than local effects and is associated with a decreased metabolic rate. It may lead to the development of degenerative diseases, such as heart disease, obesity, rheumatoid arthitis and cancer, among others. In addition, chronic inflammation is frequently present during the aging process, aggravating degenerative diseases.
Chronic, low-grade inflammation may develop following exposure to inducers called “anthropogens”. Anthropogens include factors related to lyfestyle or behavior encouraged by a man-made environment, as for example poor nutrition, inadequate sleep and lack of excercise. Additional anthropogens are represented by man-made chemicals — for examples environmental pollutants such as endocrine disruptors. The effects of a man-made environment, as is the case of social inequality, are considered anthropogens. Aging is sometime thought of an inducer of inflammation. However, not all anthropogens induce chronic inflammation or deleterious effects in general. Some may actually induce positive effects.
Garry Egger, Professor of Health and Human Sciences at Southern Cross University (Lismore, NSW, Australia), offers new insight into the role that anthropogens play in the development of chronic inflammation. Throughout history, the biggest challenge to human health has been posed by exposure to pathogens and subsequent progression to infectious diseases. However, we’re now in the presence of an additional, widespread challenge: exposure to anthropogens. Such exposure has occurred since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and, therefore, only for a relatively brief period of time. The immune system, which orchestrates the inflammatory process, has not had time to develop an appropriate response to the newly introduced anthropogens, and reacts with low-grade inflammation to a not-immediately-life-threatening situation — if exposure to the anthropogen persists, the response may become chronic, thus leading to degenerative diseases, which may be considered modern-time diseases.
Induction of chronic, low-grade inflammation by anthropogens may offer a plausible explanation for the global epidemics of degenerative diseases that our planet is currently experiencing (one example is globesity), and may represent the degenerative disease equivalent of the germ theory of infectious diseases — if this perspective is accepted, it will be possible to design novel strategies for the prevention and the management of modern-time diseases.
The rise of chronic inflammation due to anthropogens is a distinct example of how the development of culture has introduced new biological challenges for humans. The other, more recognized example, as mentioned above, is the global epidemic of obesity. Humans have come a long way as a species, and the rise in technology and medicine has had unintended effects on lifestyle that are linked to increased cases of various chronic diseases.
Since the introduction of anthropogens is relatively recent, significantly more research needs to be done to address it. Developing a pharmaceutical product that reduces chronic inflammation poses a challenge, as excess inhibition could be more dangerous to the immune system. However, similar to obesity, environmental factors have a significant role in the the disorder. It would seem that preventing anthropogens from causing disorders would require proper education on the subject. We can look back on how obesity has become so prominent around the world. What can we learn from disorders that arise from lifestyle choices? How can we use what we already know to prevent rising disorders (such as chronic inflammation from anthropegens) from becoming more prominent in populations?
What are examples of diseases that are induced by anthropogens? If made more clear about those that are increased by anthropogen, how might the medical field respond to addressing these diseases, and if so, do you think people would actually take action for their health. Like myself the quick fix is always appealing, but sometimes making long term changes can be the most beneficial. I am a little confused when you talk about developing yet another pharmaceutical product as many of them are responsible for the chemically classified anthropogens that we consume. Is there another option other than just another pill?
I completely agree with your comment. Although, I think the term anthropogen is used incredibly loosely and the article even states that they may induce positive effects. I also qiestion what are all these diseases anthropogens are causing? They way I see it is that there is little research done and a minor correlation was probably discovered. The article defines them as ” include factors related to lyfestyle or behavior encouraged by a man-made environment, as for example poor nutrition, inadequate sleep and lack of excercise”. Since these are man made, I think people could just change their lifestyle habits. If we overall treat our bodies better, than it sounds like these anthropogens could be eliminated.
Although inflammation persists as the body’s healing response to initiate immune activity, it still needs to be controlled. I agree that disorders need to be prevented and obtaining a proper diet can assist with that. Research shows that the Omega-3-fatty acid has anti-inflammatory effects found in foods such as walnuts, fish, and vegetables, and they should be consumed more often. Less protein intake could also help prevent chronic inflammation.
With new innovations and constant evolution of technology, these anthropogens are inevitable. The stark rise in chronic disorders is something that should be further investigated and I applaud those that are searching for the sources of many of these issues. That being said, most of the disorders listed above are brought on by self-induced anthropogens. So given increased awareness and education, will eliminating the self-induced anthropogens induce a reversal in these chronic disorders?
In terms of managing these modern-time diseases, I’m curious as to what strategies will be implemented to prevent many of the global epidemics. I completely agree with the overwhelming increase in chronic diseases and disorders seeing as though I myself am a victim of at least two of the disorders listed above. However other than increased awareness (which I believe is an effort that is current and effective), what more can be done to prevent these global epidemics that attack our immune systems?
It makes sense that there is a correlation between anthropogens and chronic inflammation. The anthropogens that are bad for you (or anything that is bad for you in general) will of course affect the immune system in a negative way. For example obesity is a type of anthropogen that makes the body accumulate adipose tissue macrophages and create fat cells that produce inflammatory proteins called cytokines. Adipose tissue macrophages play a big part in creating obesity triggered inflammation and are related with BMI and total body fat. Adipose tissue macrophages also show increased amounts of inflammatory factors that induce systemic inflammation and insulin resistance. People need to know how to balance pro-inflammatory chemical and anti-inflammatory chemical inside their body. Also people don’t know if they are chronically inflamed so scientists should create an easy blood test to screen for inflammation.
So I remember learning in Molecular Cell Biology that there are some pollutants that cause harm to the human body, such as exposure to hazardous oxygen compounds that disrupt the normal function of a cell. However, I never realized that these compounds facilitate our immune system to destroy itself. Inflammation, the first defense mechanism, and possibly the most important, clearly plays a crucial role in combating pollutants and other Anthropogens. Then, in a sense, the immune system turns against the host, causing excessive inflammation and damage to host cells. I’m actually curious as to why the immune system doesn’t shut down, due to these pollutants, as a result of cellular damage. I’m also curious as to whether the inflammation mechanism is even productive in defending a host, when anthropogens come into play.
It would seem that the problem of emerging chronic diseases caused by factors that humans have created, is so much bigger than we previously thought. Especially recently with emerging technology, population growth, poverty increasing all over the world, migration to urban settings, the increase of people with ineffective immune responses, modification of animal habitats, and most importantly the processed food we ingest daily, are all factors that are causing great harm and sickness. Like the commentators previously questioned, how are we going to prevent these global epidemics caused by these Anthropogens? I believe awareness is a significant component to solving this worldwide dilemma. Educating people about how they can live healthier lives by implementing simple life style changes every day, can really help in the long run. It doesn’t really help when acquiring proper healthcare and advice from doctors is so expensive, especially in the USA. We need more government as well as healthcare institutions to make it easier for people to access medication and advanced testing for diseases as well. Until that happens, all we can try to do work on is reducing these risk factors that lead to disease. Even growing awareness in our small communities, will eventually lead to a larger global initiative.
What caught my attention from the article is the mention of aging being thought of as an inducer of inflammation. Considering how the human population is experiencing an increase in longevity, this idea that chronic inflammation is common during the aging process is very frightening. As we know, life expectancy has grown steadily over the years, and one could argue that this is due to the result of modern medicine, which I think could be listed as a positive anthropogenic factor. Essentially, on one hand, people are living longer, and on the other hand, depending on their lifestyle, these people have a higher chance of developing chronic inflammation.
It’s eye-opening to think that our modern lifestyle can induce chronic degenerative diseases that are now our main concerns. It’s especially sad to know that even though we have developed many pharmaceutical advances to combat against a variety of pathogens and have succeeded in many cases, we’re now faced with a global challenge induced by anthropogens, something we created. It’s a tough situation to be in, but it’s forcing us to reevaluate our way of living, which I think is a good thing. Instead of waiting for our immune system to adapt to these new anthropogens, I think being proactive would be a better solution. As many have said before me, prevention through awareness would be extremely beneficial for the population. If everyone was informed of the risks involved in living an unhealthy lifestyle, maybe we can reduce the occurrences of these chronic diseases. We might not be able to eliminate negative anthropogens, but maybe we can change how it affects us.
This article is very interesting in regards to how our body is reacting to certain elements. Who would of thought that something that we considered helping us, inflammation, was really the beginning of a long lasting terror. How does the body know or why does the body switch from a mild inflammation to a chronic inflammation? Is there a trigger or is this because the innate immunity can not control the infection?
This article is pretty much stating the sad fact that we are all prone to these diseases and the longer we live the greater chance we have of developing each and everyone of these diseases. Yeah we might can find a way to slow the progression but it looks inevitable. Our best bet is to begin the battle any way we can against these diseases at an early age. Also I am curious to see what our body could come up with to battle these anthropogens since the article stated that the immune system has not had time. It seems like we should take more preventative measures but once it has began I guess we also need another plan.
If we can cause this to our own bodies I am really curious to what kind of anthropogens we have created for earth to deal with.
I agree that it is very sad that this diseases looks inevitable however like you said there are a few things we can do to slow this process. One of the biggest anthropogens we face is our lifestyle. When I think of lifestyle I consider things like diet, occupation, etc. One’s diet I believe is the single most important factor in slowing the process of chronic inflammation and problems such as heart disease or obesity. Therefore it’s important to fight this battle early like you said. To answer your question about the reason chronic inflammation occurs, I believe it’s a combination of the innate immunity not being able to handle the infection on it’s own, so it elevates to the next phase of immunity. Also along with innate immunity not being able to handle the infection things such as lack of sleep, diet, and exercise play a role in catalyzing the infection if not done in adequate amounts, this is just my opinion though.
I think the very last paragraph in the article should be pondered over.
“Induction of chronic, low-grade inflammation by anthropogens may offer a plausible explanation for the global epidemics of degenerative diseases………may represent the degenerative disease equivalent of the germ theory of infectious diseases — if this perspective is accepted, it will be possible to design novel strategies for the prevention and the management of modern-time diseases.”
I think the key point to take away from this is obtaining conclusive evidence that anthropogens directly induce chronic, low-grade inflammation, and that this inflammation leads to degenerative diseases. If conclusive evidence is not obtained, it will be difficult to draft and implement effective strategies to prevent and manage these “modern-time diseases”. The main difficulty that I foresee in obtaining this evidence is the ambiguity of the situation; it is very difficult to prove how poor nutrition leads to obesity or some other degenerative disease because of the time lapse between exposure to the anthropogen and the disease in question. Also, another difficulty that must be overcome is our ignorance of the genetic aspect of these “modern-time diseases”. For example, yes diabetes has an anthropogenic factor, but it also has a genetic component, and we need to understand what that is so we can effectively prevent the disease.
Everything is good in moderation so its very understandable that inflammation has a negative affect on the body when it’s occurring constantly. One thing that caught my eye in this article was the fact that aging is thought to be a cause chronic inflammation this stood out because one would think that as you got older your immune system would be weaker and inflammation would rarely occur. However it has seemed to increased significantly and negatively with age. Although we can’t control chronic inflammation we do have control over a major anthropogen, and that’s our life style. The life style one lives is so important to maintaining a healthy body physically, mentally, and emotionally. The article mentioned “globesity” as an anthropogen, I believe this also falls into the lifestyle category. I understand that aging is inevitable but if we take control of our lifestyle and maintain things such as adequate diet, proper amounts of sleep, no drug use etc then I believe we could lessen the severity of chronic inflammation, maybe even avoid it as a whole.
This article definitely addressed the misconception of inflammation because it is often misinterpreted as an infection. It is indeed the first line of defense and can be taken for granted. It actually prolongs the process and gives our body some time to respond. However I think this article can raise the awareness of how pathogens are not the only culprit to disease but anthropogens also contribute. Jamie Oliver made a wonderful point on his video on The Global Fool, that addressed “globesity.” He argued about how the ignorance of children should be diminished by educated them. Food should be prepared freshly. If we educate our children on the foods that they eat and how anthropogens (man-made) can consequently induce chronic inflammation, we can really extend the lives of many.
The industrial revolution was concluded in the 19th century so to say that anthropogens can be negative to as if we learned this yesterday would be a copout the issue simple has not be aggressively addressed until late with the more health concerned society we now exist in. Ironically with society being more health oriented we have created anthropogens. After living for decades in a community where you are exposed to anthropogens it would be the logical response of the body to inflame in order to protect itself from what it deems hazardous. Thus spawning chronic inflammation, but with the longer life expectancies in some countries today the expectation of developing an ailment is somewhat of a norm. With anthropogens including lifestyle, poor nutrition, inadequate sleep, lack of exercise, man-made chemicals, etc. it will be difficult to identify the specific culprit of some of these “modern-time diseases”. Studies should break up these anthropogens and study them independently to further determine what these anthropogens are truly capable of. Moving forward in our society anthropogens will be an issue for the foreseeable future the most important and precarious measure we can take is to moderate the way we live our lives.
Too much of something is poisonous, is a saying people teach. When we think of inflammation, the first think that comes to mind is a mechanism that informs body of a foreign material. Inflammation is mechanism in the first line of defense that only informs the body of foreign material but also repairs the damaged tissue. When there is prolonged inflammation it is known as chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation develops when there is an exposure to inducers called “Anthropogens”. Anthropogens are inducers that are increased by human activity and behavior like obesity and lack of exercise.
In the article it was interesting to learn that aging is considered inducer to inflammation. When individuals get old they do not exercise as often and this may cause Anthropogens to develop. Also inflammation in old people can be due to mechanisms or pathways in the body not functioning properly. Aging is associated with Th-1 type of inflammation and causes increased priming of brain microglial cells and macrophages (1). When there is increased macrophages in the body there may be increased inflammation.
Oxenkrug, G. (2011). Interferon-gamma — Inducible Inflammation: Contribution to Aging and Aging-Associated Psychiatric Disorders. Aging & Disease, 2(6), 474-486.
With industry consistently advancing all over the world there is no possible way to prevent anthropogen exposure. Understanding that these factors could be potentially harmful is only part of the battle and the other 75% lies in the hands of humans themselves. For anthropogens that we can maintain, why aren’t we? LifeSTYLE is a huge contributor to lifeSPAN and it really is that simple. Poor nutrition, lack of exercise and lack of sleep as mentioned in the article are all things that we as humans are primarily in control of. If simple changes could be made to help extend your life then why wouldn’t you make them? As for anthropogens that are chemically composed, these can be medications and other man- made substances that we consume. If you have ever seen any pharmaceutical commercial, you know that with any pill that you take to treat a specific problem that there is a laundry list of possible complications associated. If using heart disease for example, exposure to anthropogens that could cause this time of inflammatory and life threatening disease can be prevented. Patients with heart disease usually don’t come to a doctors appointment because they have just finished a triathlon, eat a well balanced diet, and are a non smoker. Although it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be an extremist, moderate exercise, eating healthy and not smoking can all dramatically reduce the risk for heart disease. Now, if you don’t have heart disease, you won’t need all of the medications to treat it that can also lead to internal bleeding, liver failure, vasculitis and ulcers (Plavix- WebMD). Conclusively there aren’t always to prevent inflammatory diseases, but by taking steps toward a more healthy lifestyle, anthropogen exposure is significantly decreased.