Allergy/autoimmunity link found 04 April 2007
A link between allergic diseases like eczema, and autoimmune diseases has been found by scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle.
"Our study implies that allergic and inflammatory diseases may actually trigger autoimmune diseases by relaxing the controls that normally eliminate newly produced, self-reactive B cells," said researcher David Rawlings. "Many autoimmune diseases are caused by self-reactive antibodies produced by such B cells."
Rawlings, the head of immunology at UW and Seattle's Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, explained that autoimmune diseases are a group of more than 80 disorders that occur when the immune system -- designed to detect and destroy foreign invaders in the body -- begins destroying the body's tissues instead.
Such diseases can affect the nervous system (multiple sclerosis), gastrointestinal system (Crohn's disease), and endocrine systems (Grave's disease), as well as the skin, connective tissue, eyes, blood, and blood vessels, he said. The principal attackers are B and/or T immune cells.
Rawlings said his team is currently focused on where the "relaxation" in the control of B cell autoimmunity occurs, and are looking at drugs that can counter some of the adverse effects of that process.
The research is published in the April 1 edition of Nature Immunology.
Source: United Press International © Copyright 2007 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.