Current Concepts in Autoimmunity and Chronic Inflammation

Volume 305 of the series Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology pp 105-125

Can Unresolved Infection Precipitate Autoimmune Disease?

  • D. J. B. MarksAffiliated withCentre for Molecular Medicine, University College London
  • , N. A. MitchisonAffiliated withDepartment of Immunology, Windeyer Institute of Medical Science, University College London
  • , A. W. SegalAffiliated withCentre for Molecular Medicine, University College London
  • , J. SieperAffiliated withDepartment of Rheumatology, Charite Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Autoimmune diseases are frequently postulated to arise as post-infectious phenomena. Here we survey the evidence supporting these theories, with particular emphasis on Crohn’s disease and ankylosing spondylitis. Direct proof that infection establishes persistent autoimmunity remains lacking, although it may provoke a prolonged inflammatory response when occurring on a susceptible immunological background. The argument of infective causality is by nomeans trivial, since it carries important consequences for the safety of vaccine development.