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Low-grade inflammation causes gap junction-coupled cell dysfunction throughout the body, which can lead to the spread of systemic inflammation

Journal article
Authors Elisabeth Hansson
Eva Skiöldebrand
Published in Scandinavian Journal of Pain
Volume 19
Issue 4
Pages 639–649
ISSN 1877-8860
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Clinical Chemistry and Transfusion Medicine
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Pages 639–649
Language en
Keywords Ca2+ signaling, endotoxins, gap junction-coupled cell networks, low-grade inflammation, systemic inflammation, Toll-like receptors
Subject categories Immunology in the medical area, Cell and Molecular Biology


Gap junction-coupled cells form networks in different organs in the body. These networks can be affected by inflammatory stimuli and become dysregulated. Cell signaling is also changed through connexin-linked gap junctions. This alteration affects the surrounding cells and extracellular matrix in organs. These changes can cause the spread of inflammatory substances, thus affecting other network-linked cells in other organs in the body, which can give rise to systemic inflammation, which in turn can lead to pain that can turn into chronic. This is a review based on literature search and our own research data of inflammatory stimuli that can affect different organs and particularly gap-junction-coupled cells throughout the body. A remaining question is which cell type or tissue is first affected by inflammatory stimuli. Can endotoxin exposure through the air, water and body start the process and are mast cells the first target cells that have the capacity to alter the physiological status of gap junction-coupled cells, thereby causing breakdown of different barrier systems? Is it possible to address the right cellular and biochemical parameters and restore inflammatory systems to a normal physiological level by therapeutic strategies? © 2019 Elisabeth Hansson et al., Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston. All rights reserved.

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