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In Search of a Germ Theory Equivalent for Chronic Disease

The left side of this figure shows that classical inflammation is ultimately resolved after inflammation, an immune defense reaction, and resolution. Metaflammation results in a low-level dysmetabolism, which can ultimately result in chronic disease. The order and other possible actions associated with metaflammation on the right side of the figure (ie, oxidative stress, metaflammation, and insulin resistance) are suggestive only but imply the mix of dysmetabolic actions associated with metaflammation. Adapted from Egger and Dixon (10). Abbreviation: LDL, low-density lipoprotein.

Figure 1. A representation of the difference between classical inflammation (illustrated as raging fire), initiated by a microbial antigen or injury, and metaflammation (illustrated as smoldering fire), caused by inorganic “anthropogens.” Adapted from Egger and Dixon (10). Abbreviation: LDL, low-density lipoprotein. The scale of difference of immune reaction between the 2 forms (ie, approximately 100-fold) is not shown.

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This timeline shows that anti-inflammatory inducers have been associated with human activity since at least the Neolithic revolution. Pro-inflammatory inducers have mostly (except for smoking) only been part of the human environment since the Industrial Revolution. “Anthropogens” are defined here as man-made environments; and the by-products, behaviors, and/or lifestyles encouraged by those environments, some of which have biological effects which may be detrimental to human health. Abbreviations: MUFA, monounsaturated fatty acids; EI, energy intake; EE, energy expenditure; N6, omega-6 fatty acids; N3, omega-3 fatty acids; BP, before present; EDCs, endocrine disrupting chemicals; SAFA, saturated fatty acid.

Figure 2. The pro- or anti-inflammatory effects of various inducers and their approximate (not to scale) introduction into the human environment. The bullets associated with each inducer in the time frame indicated suggest the approximate time of introduction to the human environment. “Anthropogens” are defined here as man-made environments and the by-products, behaviors, and/or lifestyles encouraged by those environments, some of which have biological effects which may be detrimental to human health. Abbreviations: MUFA, monounsaturated fatty acid; EI, energy intake; EE, energy expenditure; N6, omega-6 fatty acid; N3, omega-3 fatty acid; BP, before present; EDCs, endocrine-disrupting chemicals; SAFA, saturated fatty acid.

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