Autoimmune: Pertaining to autoimmunity, a misdirected immune response that occurs when the immune system goes awry and attacks the body itself.
Autoimmunity is present to some extent in everyone and is usually harmless. However, autoimmunity can cause a broad range of human illnesses, known collectively as autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases occur when there is progression from benign autoimmunity to pathogenic autoimmunity. This progression is determined by genetic influences as well as environmental triggers.
Autoimmunity is evidenced by the presence of autoantibodies (antibodies directed against the person who produced them) and T cells that are reactive with host antigens.
- Autoimmune disease
Autoimmune disease: An illness that occurs when the body tissues are attacked by its own immune system. The immune system is a complex organization within the body that is designed normally to “seek and destroy” invaders of the body, including infectious agents. Patients with autoimmune diseases frequently have unusual antibodies circulating in their blood that […]
- Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
Autoimmune hemolytic anemia: A condition in which the immune system attacks the red blood cells, resulting in fewer of these oxygen-transporting cells. See also: Hemolytic anemia.
- Autoimmune hepatitis
Autoimmune hepatitis: A disease in which the body’s immune system attacks liver cells, causing inflammation of the liver (hepatitis). If not treated, autoimmune hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis (scarring and hardening) of the liver and eventually to liver failure.
- Autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS)
Autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS): A disease caused by failure of lymphocytes to die once they have finished doing their job. As a result, lymphocytes hang around in the spleen and lymph nodes which grow large, and immune cells attack the body’s own tissues, a condition known as autoimmunity. ALPS is characterized by: Anemia due to […]
- Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy
Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy: A genetic autoimmune disease with an extraordinary array of clinical features but characterized most often by at least 2 of the following 3 findings: hypoparathyroidism — underfunction of the parathyroid glands which control calcium, candidiasis (yeast infection), and adrenal insufficiency (underfunction of the adrenal gland). APECED was the first systemic (bodywide) autoimmune […]