New research shows for the first time that inflammation may actually help to heal damaged muscle tissue and may change the way in which sports injuries involving muscle tissue are treated in the future.
It may also help identify how much patient monitoring is necessary when potent anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed over a long period.
The study, published in The FASEB Journal, could have the effect of turning conventional wisdom, that inflammation must be largely controlled to encourage healing, on its head.
These findings could lead to new therapies for acute muscle injuries caused by trauma, chemicals, infections, freeze damage and exposure to medications which cause muscle damage as a side effect.
In addition, the research suggests that existing and future therapies used to combat inflammation should be closely examined to ensure that the benefits of inflammation are not eliminated.
“We hope that our findings stimulate further research to dissect different roles played by tissue inflammation in clinical settings, so we can utilize the positive effects and control the negative effects of tissue inflammation,” said Lan Zhou, a researcher involved in the work.
The research team found that the presence of inflammatory cells (macrophages) in acute muscle injury produce a high level of a growth factor called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) which significantly increases the rate of muscle regeneration.
Their report shows that muscle inflammatory cells produce the highest levels of IGF-1, which improves muscle injury repair.
“For wounds to heal we need controlled inflammation, not too much, and not too little,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal,
“It’s been known for a long time that excess anti-inflammatory medication, such as cortisone, slows wound healing. This study goes a long way to telling us why: insulin-like growth factor and other materials released by inflammatory cells helps wound to heal.”