Early childhood environments and the ecology of inflammation
The human immune system is characterized by substantial developmental plasticity, and a comparative, developmental, ecological framework is proposed to cast light on the complex associations among early environments, regulation of inflammation, and disease. Recent studies in the Philippines and lowland Ecuador reveal low levels of chronic inflammation, despite higher burdens of infectious disease, and point to nutritional and microbial exposures in infancy as important determinants of inflammation in adulthood. By shaping the regulation of inflammation, early environments moderate responses to inflammatory stimuli later in life, with implications for the association between inflammation and chronic diseases. Attention to the eco-logics of inflammation may point to promising directions for future research, enriching our understanding of this important physiological system and informing approaches to the prevention and treatment of disease.
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