In an effort to prevent and lower the risk of inflammation-related diseases, a multi-institutional team of researchers based in the United States, South America, and Europe are calling for improvements to the way in which systemic chronic inflammation is diagnosed and treated. Descriptions of the underlying mechanisms of inflammation and the association with various disease states, as well as recommendations for managing systemic inflammation, are reported in a perspective article published in Nature Medicine.

Investigators suggest that more than 50% of deaths today are associated with inflammation-related diseases. These diseases include cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, stroke, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The authors argue that further investigations are critical to identify optimal strategies in the diagnosis of chronic inflammation in its early stages, because this may help reduce the incidence of chronic diseases worldwide.

Social, environmental, and lifestyle factors like chronic stress, physical inactivity, a diet consisting of refined and sugary foods, obesity, microbiome dysbiosis, and poor sleep quality are prime targets for preventing and reducing chronic inflammation and subsequent disease risk. The authors point out that the public must be educated on these factors so that patients can take steps to mitigate their own risk of chronic disease. The investigators also emphasize the importance of identifying biomarkers beyond C-reactive protein, because these may be helpful in assisting the early diagnosis of chronic inflammation. Longitudinal studies examining lifelong exposure to physical, chemical, and biological elements from the prenatal period to adulthood may also provide more insight into the course of inflammation over the life span of individuals.

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The authors wrote that “although systemic chronic inflammation is a highly modifiable process in principle, additional research, initiative and investment are needed before we fully realize the potential benefits associated with targeting inflammation to improve human health.”


Furman D, Campisi J, Verdin E, et al. Chronic inflammation in the etiology of disease across the life span. Nat Med. 2019;25(12):1822-1832.