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Autoimmune Dis. 2012; 2012: 539282.
Published online Feb 20, 2012. doi:  10.1155/2012/539282
PMCID: PMC3290812
Autoimmunity in Rheumatic Diseases Is Induced by Microbial Infections via Crossreactivity or Molecular Mimicry
Taha Rashid and Alan Ebringer *
Analytical Sciences Group, Kings College London, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NN, UK
*Alan Ebringer: alan.ebringer/at/kcl.ac.uk
Academic Editor: Juan-Manuel Anaya
Received September 2, 2011; Accepted November 1, 2011.
Abstract
A general consensus supports fundamental roles for both genetic and environmental, mainly microbial, factors in the development of autoimmune diseases. One form of autoimmune rheumatic diseases is confined to a group of nonpyogenic conditions which are usually preceded by or associated with either explicit or occult infections. A previous history of clinical pharyngitis, gastroenteritis/urethritis, or tick-borne skin manifestation can be obtained from patients with rheumatic fever, reactive arthritis, or Lyme disease, respectively, whilst, other rheumatic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and Crohn's disease (CD) are usually lacking such an association with a noticeable microbial infection. A great amount of data supports the notion that RA is most likely caused by Proteus asymptomatic urinary tract infections, whilst AS and CD are caused by subclinical bowel infections with Klebsiella microbes. Molecular mimicry is the main pathogenetic mechanism that can explain these forms of microbe-disease associations, where the causative microbes can initiate the disease with consequent productions of antibacterial and crossreactive autoantibodies which have a great impact in the propagation and the development of these diseases.
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