Autoimmune Diseases

autoimmune disease

autoimmune disease, any of a number of abnormal conditions caused when the body produces antibodies to its own substances. In rheumatoid arthritis, a group of antibody molecules called collectively RF, or rheumatoid factor, is complexed to the individual's own gamma globulin blood proteins; the circulating complex apparently causes tissue inflammation and muscle and bone deformities. In Hashimoto's thyroiditis, an inflammatory disease of the thyroid gland, antibodies are produced against the thyroid protein thyroglobulin. In some blood disorders, antibodies may be produced against the body's own red and white blood cells. Myasthenia gravis, a disease characterized by weakened muscles, is thought to have an autoimmune origin. In systemic lupus erythematosus it has been shown that individuals have antibodies to certain of their own body substances that for some reason are acting as antigens; these substances include the individual's own nucleic acids and cell organelles such as ribosomes and mitochondria. Lupus can cause dysfunction of many organs, including the heart, kidneys, and joints. Because lupus and certain diseases of probable autoimmune origin, e.g., scleroderma and dermatomyositis, affect collagen (connective tissue) throughout the body and blood vessels, they are referred to as collagen-vascular diseases. In rheumatic fever, the individual produces antibodies to antigens of streptococcal bacteria; it is believed that the streptococcal antigens are structurally similar to antigens of the heart and that antistreptococcal antibodies, combining with antigenic sites on the heart, damage the muscle and heart valves. Diseases of the immune system are currently treated by a variety of nonspecific immunosuppressive drugs and steroids.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Handbook of Gender, Culture, and Health
Richard M. Eisler; Michel Hersen.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 14 "Gender, Culture, and Autoimmune Disorders"
Antibodies and Immunity
G. J. V. Nossal.
Basic Books, 1978
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 19 "Autoimmunity"
Stress and Disease Processes
Neil Schneiderman; Philip McCabe; Andrew Baum.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Behavioral Responses to Cyclophosphamide in Animals with Autoimmune Disease"
The Environment-Autoimmune Link. (Environews NIEHS News)
Hood, Ernie.
Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 111, No. 5, May 2003
Environmental Factors in Autoimmune Disease
Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 111, No. 9, July 2003
UV Intensity May Affect Autoimmune Disorder
Medlin, Jennifer.
Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 111, No. 12, September 2003
Setting the Stage for Illness: Mercury Exposure and Autoimmune Disease
Hood, Ernie.
Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 111, No. 10, August 2003
Understanding Hepatitis
James L. Achord.
University Press of Mississippi, 2002
Librarian’s tip: "Immune Hepatitis" begins on p. 100
The Rebellious Body: Reclaim Your Life from Environmental Illness or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Janice Strubbe Wittenberg.
Insight Books, 1996
The Doctor's Guide to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Understanding, Treating, and Living with CFIDs
David S. Bell.
Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., 1994
Treating Arthritis: Medicine, Myth, and Magic
Félix Fernández-Madrid.
Insight Books, 1989
Social and Cultural Lives of Immune Systems
James M. Wilce Jr.
Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 11 "Corporeal Flows"
Human Trials: Scientists, Investors, and Patients in the Quest for a Cure
Susan Quinn.
Perseus Publishing, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of cures for autoimmune diseases in multiple chapters
The Link between Religion and Health: Psychoneuroimmunology and the Faith Factor
Harold G. Koenig; Harvey Jay Cohen.
Oxford University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Psychological Stress and Autoimmune Disease"
Search for more books and articles on autoimmune diseases