Unmet Needs in Autoimmunity and Potential New Tools
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The term “autoimmunity” refers to a pathological condition in which the immunological tolerance of self-antigens is broken through, cross-reactive T cells are activated, and autoantibodies are produced by B cells. The intricate interplay among those aberrantly activated immune cells as well as inflammatory cytokines secreted by them contributes to the development of proinflammatory cascade which eventually leads to the occurrence of autoimmune diseases (AIDs) and organ damage. Autoimmune diseases occupy a broad spectrum of human diseases with more than 70 different disorders and afflict approximately 5–8 % of the world’s population. AIDs can be categorized into organ-specific and systemic. Although the exact mechanism of AIDs remains elusive, it is generally believed that both genetic polymorphism and environmental exposure are involved in the development of AIDs. Aberrant epigenetic marks are also identified in patients with AIDs. In addition, dysregulation of innate immune system and molecular mimicry are indicated to play important roles in the initiation and maintenance of autoreactive inflammation. Based on the progress made in elucidating molecular mechanisms underlying AIDs, novel biomarkers for prediction, early diagnosis, prognosis and treatment response, and therapeutic strategies are proposed, which represents a promising future in the battle against AIDs. However, challenges remain regarding the clinical application of these potential new tools.
KeywordsAutoimmune diseases Molecular mechanism Biomarkers Treatment
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 81220108017, No. 81373205, and No. 81270024), the Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education (Grant No. 20120162130003), and the Programs of Science-Technology Commission of Hunan Province (2013FJ4202, 2011TP4019-7) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities and the National Key Clinical Specialty Construction Project of National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China.
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