Every day, the body is exposed to a number of factors, which alone, or in combination, under the correct conditions may initiate the development of an autoimmune disease. In addition, it is also a normal consequence of ageing and may be induced by certain drugs or microorganisms (especially viruses). The exact cause of most autoimmune diseases is largely unknown as are the factors that control the severity of the disease, the range of autoantigens or the target organs involved. However, a number of parameters are known to be generally
Table 5.5 Factors affecting the development of autoimmune disease
Effects/associated autoimmune disease
Pharmaceuticals Lithium Penicillin Penicillamine a-Methyldopa
Chemicals and organic solvents Hydrazine Vinyl chloride Silica dust
Heavy metals Gold Cadmium Mercury
Food additives Tartrazine
HLA-DR4 - rheumatoid arthritis HLA-DR2, 3 - SLE
HLA-DQ3 - insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus e.g. Epstein-Barr virus
Oestrogen aggravates autoimmune disease; androgens are immunosuppressive
Neurochemicals and hormones are involved in rapid onset of autoimmune disease in response to these agents
Systemic lupus erythematosus Systemic sclerosis Systemic sclerosis
Immune-complex glomerulonephritis Immune-complex glomerulonephritis Immune-complex glomerulonephritis
Systemic lupus erythematosus associated with autoimmune disease and these are discussed briefly in the following sections (Table 5.5).
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