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Autoimmune diseases revisited part 2

In the first article in this series from March 2023, an outline of the history of autoimmunity and significant concepts such as immunotolerance and clonal deletion were introduced. More details of five autoimmune diseases are now presented.

Autoimmune diseases are a significant cause of morbidity and disability and have been claimed to be among the top ten causes of death in young and middle-aged women in the US, notably due to myocarditis. In order to differentiate autoimmune diseases from other similar conditions, US immunologists Ernst Witebsky and Noel Rose introduced several postulates to define autoimmune diseases in 1957. These included direct demonstration of freely circulating antibodies, that there is a specific antigen for this antibody, the production of antibody is the same in experimental animals, which should also show the same tissue changes. Due to advances in immunology and new evidence from molecular biology and hybridoma studies these postulates were modified by Rose and Constatin Bona in 1993 to also include the criteria that autoantibodies are present and the condition is directly transferable by autoantibody- or autoantigen-specific T cells. There can be clinical and practical challenges in meeting these criteria for inclusion in this classification, however, it is generally accepted that at least 80 diseases meet these criteria.

General symptoms of autoimmune diseases may be non-specific and difficult to diagnose but several symptoms may be suggestive of an autoimmune disorder. These include fatigue, chronic pain, mood changes such as depression and anxiety, low-grade fever and skin rashes.

Click here to read the full article. 

Image credit | Istock  | Science-Photolibrary | Shutterstock

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