The mystery of autoimmune diseases revealed
Taking control of autoimmunity: a scourge of our modern age
Autoimmune diseases—such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis—cause the body to destroy itself. Recent studies suggest that the mechanisms of other chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are also autoimmune. The prevailing belief is that in all these diseases, by different pathways, the immune system is triggered to mistakenly attack healthy cells.
The growth of autoimmune diseases is alarming. Some increasingly strong evidence would suggest that the trend is linked to some characteristics of our modern lifestyle, notably the countless environmental triggers that we are exposed to every day. That is until today. The following essay tries to shed additional light on the still obscure field. By connecting interdependent innovations and new insights into a bigger picture, we hope to make clearer what autoimmunity is and why now is the time for new levels of action.
The viral culprit
Our cells have very small deviations from the equilibrium, called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). The function of SNPs has not been clarified, and has largely been dismissed as unimportant. But on the contrary, it is now clear that SNPs are very important as the gatekeepers that signal whether a cell is infected by a herpes virus. They are thought to be part of the innate immune system and the body’s evolved defence against double-stranded viruses. SNPs are somewhat genetically determined. That is why for instance Rheuma Arthritis or Alzheimer's is seen more in some families than in others. If the cell does not trigger internal cytokine/interferon mechanisms (of the RNA interference complex) to keep the virus down, the cell will get predestined. The lack of the right SNPs in the X-chromosome explains the gender bias in autoimmunity and indeed in diseases as Alzheimer's.
The systemic immune system also gets loaded with herpes but normally does not recognise the infected cells; there is a situation of viral tolerance. Biological evolution of many hundreds of millions of years, perhaps even billions of years, lies at the basis of our herpes immunity. This may be deduced from the fact that core components of the miRNA pathway mechanism are conserved between the two kingdoms of plants and animals. But the immune system never got rid of herpes completely, and all people have it.
The autoimmunity problem
The autoimmunity problem comes when the gut microbiome, which co-evolved with the genome for more than 2 billion years, stops functioning as a control of the epigenetics of certain cells and cells come to expression. If endothelial cells are no longer silenced because of gut malfunctioning, B cells cross-react with endothelial cells and a biological mechanism starts to kill the pathogen i.e the virus, in particular shedding superoxide (Ref 1). The mechanism is called autoimmunity. This may be preceded by (specialised) T cells causing physiological trauma such as MS lesions and inducible nitric oxide production (Ref 2). Here, the number of mitochondria per cell is important too. As the ATP pool of the cell declines the intra-cellular anti-viral activity weakens as does its ability to control inflammation (Ref 3).
As a result of this biological cross-reaction other biochemical processes 'unfold', in particular oxidative stress. This may give rise to all sorts of autoimmune diseases and comorbidities depending on where in the body the highly localised oxidative stress develops as a result of prior viral anchoring. Multiple sclerosis is a special case in the sense that, more than SNPs, vascular narrowings compromise the blood brain barrier and allow the viral loading, but the unfolding is the same (Ref 3). Parkinson’s is believed to be caused by the death of dopamine producing cells due to prior viral leakage into these brain cells.
Autoimmunity is becoming a real scourge in our society
24 Million people in the US have an autoimmune diagnosis, but another 50 million do not feel well and have autoantibodies but do not yet have enough antibodies to make a diagnosis. So, that means about 75 million have autoimmune problems. Even more disturbing, more and more children are being diagnosed with an autoimmune problem before reaching adulthood. For Europe, the statistics won’t be very different. Despite the increase in longevity which may be attributed to new medical techniques, drugs and technology, we are as a society progressively less well.
Why is this happening to us? What has given rise to the single largest epidemic of chronic disease in human history? Have our genes gone bad or have we adopted a lifestyle that could explain the current scourge of autoimmune diseases?
Since the weight of genetic changes to our DNA is insignificant in a short period of a few generations (changes are measured over millions of years), we need to seek the causes at the environmental level. Our modern Western lifestyle over the last 50 years has led us down a very dangerous path.
Triggers for autoimmunity and their inheritance
There is a large number of environmental changes that may contribute to the current increase in the prevalence of autoimmunity, either because they predestine the cells or because they directly trigger disease. Among them: our indoor life and the low cholesterol hype leading to a chronically low Vitamine D weaken the internal structure of our cells with a lower mitochondria count in cells of newborn life and young adults and a lower resistance to developing autoimmune disease; the fat balance is shifting towards saturated fats making microglia function less effective following CNS viral infection and depleting other immune cells; we lost good traditions as fish on Friday which help to shift back the fat balance; our food lacks phytonutritients and natural anti-oxidant components inter alia because of hydroponic plant growth and soil depletion; antibiotics are cluster bombs for our microbiome, impaired gut microbial signaling negatively influences microglia function that normally should prevent viral induced neurological disease; in our modern society with an oversupply of food we lost famine and periods of fasting which are important because they reset the microbiome; we wash away/destroy the natural microbiome of ourselves/our food; vaccine adjuvant activity may help viral spreading while vaccinations with viruses (e.g. Hepatitis B) may bring retroviral components into cells that trigger the RNA interference complex thereby inhibiting silencing genes and causing new cellular expression.
On top of this, and that makes it even more worrying, there are the environmentally induced responses of the microbiome - epigenetic - RNA interference complex that result in epigenetic marks. These marks may lead to new gene expression and are part of an indirect more short-cycle evolutionary or adaptation mechanism and may be heritable and transmitted from one generation to the next.
We may add to this that herpes proliferation is promoted by oxidative stress conditions and thus creates a vicious cycle. Saturated fats help herpes viral spreading.
The need for a paradigm change
I am convinced that if we look back at the old (= our current) health paradigm in say 2030, we will look at it in much the same way that people looked at our solar system before Kepler when the movement of each planet was described by 40 or so superimposed circles around the Earth. In Kepler’s paradigm, this was greatly simplified by putting the Sun in the centre and an ellipse to describe each planet’s orbit. Likewise, instead of all the multiple pathologies and (overlapping) co-morbidities we have today, we will look at autoimmune diseases in a much simplified manner i.e. as a herpes virally induced disease in a variety of permissible cells that come to expression because of gut microbiome insufficiency.
But change won't come easy. Today, we are faced with a health system that is completely locked up. The inertia of the status quo is so great that every change initiative seems impeded. Public intervention at scale is required to open up the system and involve thousands of interested parties discovering the alternatives and connecting interdependent innovations and new insights. Because there is not a patentable molecule involved - this is an orphan hypothesis - public intervention and funding would seem logical.
I think government has an important role to play here. It is the task of government, any government, to provide security for its citizens. And that goes way beyond a military security or a cyber security. Hence, I believe that governments from around the world should initiate new medical health initiatives. The scourge of autoimmune diseases which will soon affect over 25 percent of our societies and is growing fast merits an urgent effort at scale to clarify and address the underlying causes.
The author is an MS patient who made this analysis against the background of his own experiences and with the help of social forums and the vast amount of medical literature on the Internet as well as some professional advice.
Hundreds of references from the medical literature backing this thesis may be found on this thread.
1. https://www.clinicaleducation.org/resou ... -a-review/