Immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation following spinal cord injury
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STUDY DESIGN: Review article. OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study is to provide an overview of the many factors that contribute to the chronic inflammatory state typically observed following spinal cord injury (SCI). METHODS: Literature review. RESULTS: Not applicable. CONCLUSION: SCI is typically characterized by a low-grade inflammatory state due to a number of factors. As bidirectional communication exists between the nervous, endocrine and immune systems, damage to the spinal cord may translate into both endocrinal and immune impairment. Damage to the autonomic nervous system may induce immune dysfunction directly, through the loss of neural innervation of lymphoid organs, or indirectly by inducing endocrinal impairment. In addition, damage to the somatic nervous system and the corresponding loss of motor and sensory function increases the likelihood of developing a number of secondary health complications and metabolic disorders associated with a state of inflammation. Lastly, numerous related disorders associated with a state of chronic inflammation have been found to be at a substantially higher prevalence following SCI. Together, such factors help explain the chronic inflammatory state and immune impairment typically observed following SCI. An understanding of the interactions between systems, both in health and disease, and the many causes of chronic inflammation may aid in the effective future treatment of immune dysfunction and related disorders following SCI.
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