autoantibody An antibody produced by b cells in response to an altered self antigen on one type of the body's own cells, that attacks and destroys these cells; an antibody to self-antigens (autoantigens). Autoantibodies are the basis for autoimmune diseases.
autocatalysis A phenomenon in which the rate of a chemical reaction is increased through the catalytic action of the products of the reaction itself. Autocatalysis is the process by which protease is able to cut itself loose from the other components of the larger, inactive viral protein.
autocrine system The process by which a cell produces a hormone that then influences the cell's own growth.
autoimmune disease An ailment caused by an immune response against an individual's own tissues or cells. Among many such diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, and lupus.
autoimmune mechanism The response that produces autoimmunity, in which the body recognizes itself as foreign and forms antibodies against its own tissues. See antibody.
autoimmunity Immunity to self-anti gens (autoantigens); the loss of normal tolerance by the immune system of self-antigens on the surface of the body's own cells. b cells are activated
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