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Predicting and preventing autoimmunity, myth or reality?

Authors
  • Harel, Michal
  • Shoenfeld, Yehuda
Type
Published Article
Journal
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2006
Volume
1069
Pages
322–345
Identifiers
PMID: 16855160
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Many autoimmune diseases are chronic conditions that progress over the course of years, and are characterized by the presence of autoantibodies that precede the overt disease by months or years. As examples, the presence of two islet cell antibodies (ICA) are associated with a 50% risk of developing diabetes mellitus in 5 years, anticyclic citrullinated (anti-CCP) antibodies are found in the sera of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients a median of 4.5 years before the overt disease, and in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), patients accrue antibodies throughout a foreseen course during the 3-4 years prior to the clinical symptoms. This ability to predict autoimmune diseases, or rather their clinical manifestations, leads to the prospect of screening healthy individuals for autoantibodies. The importance of such a notion lies not only in the ability to prevent life-threatening manifestations, such as Addisonian's crisis and thyroid storm, but also in the ability to treat and even prevent overt autoimmune diseases. Among such documented treatment modalities are administration of aspirin in antiphospholipid syndrome, ursodeoxycholic acid in primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), vitamin D in SLE and autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITD), and more. Although additional studies are still needed to fully assess these notions, as well as the appropriate screening strategies to apply them, one cannot ignore the prospect of predicting and preventing autoimmunity.

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