Table 2

Key advances in developing a definition of inflammation between 1st and 20th centuries ad

Author, yearQuotationHistorical interpretationModern significance
Celsus, 1st century adrubor et tumor cum calore et doloreFirst documentation of cardinal signs of inflammationEmphasised the importance of clinical observations rather than philosophy based medicine
Galen, 3rd century ad“Laudable pus”Infection and inflammation are beneficial to repair of woundsInflammation was seen as an expression of humoral theory well into the 19th century
Virchow, 1871“The inflammatory reaction is a consequence of an excessive intake by interstitial cells, of food...filtering through the vessel wall”Inflammation as a pathological proliferation of cells due to leakage of nutrients from vesselsRecognised cellular nature of inflammatory response
Cohnheim, 1873“Finally...there lies outside the vessel...a colourless blood corpuscle.”Blood corpuscles were seen as pathological mechanisms by which infections spread, secondary to vascular injuryFirst description of diapedesis
Metchnikoff, 1908“the primum movens of the inflammatory reaction is a digestive action...toward the noxious agent”Inflammation as a defensive cellular response to pathogens, guided by the vessels rather than an aspect of the pathology itselfFirst to express the view that phagocytes were protective, not pathological
Lewis, 1927Inflammation as the “triple response” to injuryInflammation is characterized by vascular events mediated both by local chemicals and by axonsFirst recognition of neurogenic inflammation; first physiological characterisation of vascular events
Rocha e Silva, 1974Inflammation as a “multi-mediated phenomenon, of a pattern type in which all mediators would come and go at the appropriate moment...increasing vascular permeability, attracting leucocytes, producing pain, local edema and necrosis”Inflammation defined by mediatorsBiochemical definition of inflammation