Contributor: Gordon K. Klintworth
Autoimmune disease is caused by the generation an immune response to the host's own antigens due to a breakdown in the ability of the immune system to distinguish between foreign antigens and autoantigens. Autoimmune disease is characterized by the presence of autoantibodies.
Numerous autoimmune diseases are recognized (Addison disease, autoimmune gastritis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, autoimmune neutropenia, autoimmune lymphocytopenia, autoimmune thrombocytopenia, chronic thyroiditis [thyroiditis - chronic], dermatomyositis, diabetes mellitus type I, Goodpasture syndrome, Graves disease, myasthenia gravis, mixed connective tissue disease, pemphigus, pemphigoid [pemphigoid - ocular, pemphigoid - cicatricial], phakoanaphylactic uveitis [uveitis - phakoanaphylactic], rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, Sjögren syndrome, sympathetic ophthalmia, systemic lupus erythematosus, vitiligo]. Frequently patients suffer simultaneously from multiple autoimmune diseases.
Individuals suffering from a pronounced hypogammaglobulinemia (common variable immunodeficiency), Wiscott-Aldrich syndrome and familial polyglandular failure are susceptible to autoimmune disease.