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Autoimmune Diagnostics

What Causes Autoimmune Disease?

The causes for the different autoimmune diseases are as varied as their symptoms. Relatively little is known about the underlying mechanisms of the various diseases. However, at the centre of all of these disease processes lie the antibodies produced by the B cells and the T cells, which control the immune reaction through various signalling substances.

3D cartoon model of an antibody
3D space-filling model of an antibody

Antibody isotype IgG2a. The large heavy chains colored in brown and silver, the small light chains in green und light blue (PDB code: 1IGT).

Antibodies are large protein molecules whose job is to rapidly identify and quickly fight off viruses, bacteria, and other attackers. Together with specialized immune cells they are the source of our body's "immunity" against pathogens. In autoimmune diseases, however, these antibodies are also directed against tissues of the body itself; they are then referred to as autoantibodies ("auto" is Greek for "self, own"). However some good does come with the bad, because these antibodies are also used to diagnose the various autoimmune diseases.

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