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24 million Americans, 80% women, suffer from over 100 autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune disease is the third most common killer, after heart and cancer diseases.
Because the immune system thinks healthy cells in the body are foreign invaders, the body fights itself and attacks various tissues and organs, such as kidney, muscle, nerve, and skin. The most common autoimmune diseases are: multiple sclerosis, lupus, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, and type I diabetes
Infectious agents commonly trigger autoimmune illnesses. They cause immune abnormalities of T. lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell), and induced the production of autoantibodies.
The problem is due to the function of mast cells. Mast cells are active in all allergic reactions. These cells have a key role in inducing autoimmune conditions, and are potent regulators of the immune system. Mast cells recognize harmful bacteria and release TNF cells (tumor necrosis factor), and neutrophils (the infection clearing cells) to destroy them.
Mast cells are not found in the peripheral blood, but come from stem cells in the bone marrow. They, breakdown germs and toxins, and call in the immune system to clean up the mess.
All body tissues that come into direct contact with the outside world have mast cells. They are most concentrated in the skin, bowel, nose, urinary tract, and other mucous passages.
Mast cells are very protective: but if you have too many mast cells, you may get more allergies and autoimmune diseases. They selectively produce different mediators that attack specific bacteria and viruses. Mast cells also recruit neutrophils, eosinophiis, nerve cells, and T cells, to destroy pathogens.
The surface of the mast cells contains CD 48 protein. Antibodies to this protein will block the mast cells from working, and prevent them from recognizing harmful bacteria. The main chemical mediator of mast cells is histamine, which can cause tissue swelling, itching, flushing, and other skin responses.
One third of the risk of developing autoimmune diseases attributed to hereditary factors. Your genes dictate how many mast cells you start with.
Chronic exposure to hazardous chemicals can make these mast cells go crazy sparking immune disorders. Smoking, in particular, doubles your risk for rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other autoimmune diseases.
The lungs have the second highest concentration of mast cells after the mouth, and their job is to protect you against hazardous chemicals that you inhale or consume. If your immune system is overtaxed, these cells overreact to harmless substances. Generally metals inhibit immune cell proliferation. Exceptions to this are: gold, and silver, which can induce autoimmunity.
A deficiency of a specific substance can also cause autoimmunity. For example, selenium deficiency is linked with thyroiditis and cardiomyopathy in humans. When given selenium, the disorder improves.
Exposure to organic compounds, TCE, (halogenated hydrocarbon trichloroethylene), and PCB, have been associated with systemic lupus.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation, can increase your autoimmune risk. However it seems to be protective in multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Infectious agents as beta hemolytic streptococcus, the cause of rheumatic heart disease, trigger autoimmune activity.
Acute Guiian-Barre syndrome and Epstein-Barr virus (EPV) has been associated with bacterial and viral infections, reactive arthritis, intestinal infections and rheumatoid arthritis.
Researcher Singh. postulates that over 80% of all autism is caused by an abnormal immune reaction. 50% of autistic patients show signs of depressed immunity, with reduced lymphocytes, T. helper cells, CD to and CD4 plus cells, and a lower percentage of total lymphocytes.
After a natural infection or vaccination, the myelin sheath becomes damaged. Autism often occurs in a family history of autoimmune diseases as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is often associated with viral infections.
Autistic patients respond well to immune therapies. Children with autism do not produce antibodies to German measles vaccine. This may be due to a defect in a reduction in T. lymphocyte function.
A third of autistic children have positive titers of ANA (anti-nuclear antibodies). ANA are nonspecific antibodies present in patients with autoimmune diseases. Autistic children have a predisposition for grades thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and insulin-dependent diabetes. There is a delay or incomplete myelination in the corpus callosum, the largest area of the brain. This may be the cause of learning disabilities and auditory processing disturbances in autism.
Autoimmune disease results in symptoms of chronic joint or muscle pain and weakness, unexplained tiredness, rashes, trouble concentrating, weight loss, dry eyes, and tingling in the hands and feet.
Microorganisms may alter antigens of the body so the immune system sees them as foreign. Infections can also increase your immune cell expression of co-stimulatory molecules and thus promote autoimmune responses.
Inflammation of muscle cells, often from bacteria, viruses, and parasites, destroy muscle and surrounding tissue. The bacteria can directly enter the muscle after injury and produce substances toxic to the muscle.
Chronic progressive autoimmune disease causes connective tissue inflammation (mostly in synovial joints); it can occur at any age, most commonly in women.
Currently treatment is to reboot the immune system so it can work properly the second time. Stem cells from your blood or bone marrow are harvested and given back to you to get rid of the infectious fighters. Other treatments include tumor necrosis factor inhibitors, which block the chemical signals that spark your inflammation. Anti-beta cell treatment also shows some value.
If you have a bizarre problem your doctor cannot diagnose, ask him if you might have an autoimmune disease. Perhaps get a second opinion. A simple skin test often helps to zero in on this disorder. A small amount of your serum is injected like a skin test. If you develop a wheal in the area, you probably have an autoimmune problem.
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Source: Progress in Autoimmune Diseases Research, NIH Autoimmune Diseases Coordinating Committee "Report to Congress," March 2005