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autoimmune diseasesZoomA-Z

Subject - Biochemistry, Medicine, Immunology

A large group of diseases characterized by an overactive immune system. In cases of autoimmune disease, the immune system is no longer able to differentiate between foreign structures and those of the body itself. The body then attacks its own tissue with immune cells and autoantibodies, which leads to inflammation and disrupted function of the affected organs (hence "auto", Greek for "self").

Organ-specific autoimmune diseases, which only affect one or a few organs (e.g. the pancreas in type 1 diabetes, the "juvenile" form of diabetes mellitus), are differentiated from systemic diseases (e.g. collagenoses), which affect the entire body.

About one percent of people in industrialized countries are affected by autoimmune diseases; by now, we know more than 80 auto-aggressive diseases.

See also: diabetes , Hashimoto's thyroiditis , lupus erythematosus , multiple sclerosis , myasthenia gravis , Lambert-Eaton syndrome , systemic

Recommended Learning Units

Autoimmune DiagnosticsLevel 140 min.

BiochemistryMedicinal Chemistry and BiochemistryImmunology

Autoimmune diseases can affect every organ in the human body. The symptoms of these diseases thus vary correspondingly. Very often, they resemble the symptoms of other diseases and are difficult to differentiate. Highly specific laboratory techniques are used to support formation of a diagnosis. These methods are described in this chapter.

Autoimmunity - an IntroductionLevel 130 min.

BiochemistryMedicinal Chemistry and BiochemistryImmunology

Our immune system is acting as a protective shield against infectious agents and microbial invaders. If this defence gets out of control and turns against the body’s own structures it may destroy healthy tissue and organs. The result is an autoimmune disease with severe or even life-threatening complications.