Can Unresolved Infection Precipitate Autoimmune Disease?

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Abstract

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.