Autoimmune Diseases

All Autoimmune Diseases

Names of Autoimmune Diseases

Sometimes the immune system's recognition apparatus breaks down, and the body begins to manufacture T cells and antibodies directed against its own cells and organs. Misguided T cells and autoantibodies, as they are known, contribute to many diseases. For instance, T cells that attack pancreas cells may contribute to diabetes (Read about "Diabetes"); while an autoantibody known as rheumatoid factor is common in people with rheumatoid arthritis. (Read about "Rheumatoid Arthritis") People with systemic lupus erythematosus (Read about "Lupus") have antibodies to many types of their own cells and cell components.

No one knows exactly what causes most autoimmune diseases, but multiple factors are likely to be involved. These include elements in the environment, such as viruses, certain drugs and sunlight, all of which may damage or alter normal body cells. An example of one of these types of disease is rheumatic fever. (Read about "Rheumatic Fever") Rheumatic fever results from an inflammatory reaction to certain streptococcus A bacteria, the bacterium that causes strep throat. (Read about "Sore Throat & Strep Throat") The body produces antibodies to fight the bacteria, but instead the antibodies attack some of the body's own connective tissues. Hormones are also suspected of playing a role, since most autoimmune diseases are far more common in women than in men. Heredity, too, seems to be important. Many people with autoimmune diseases have characteristic types of self marker molecules.

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