Putting It Together: The Immune System

This video tells us about the team of deadly ninja assassins that is tasked with protecting our bodies from all the bad guys that want to kill us—also known as our immune system.

Autoimmune Diseases

Although the immune system protects the body by attacking invading “enemies” (pathogens), in some cases, the immune system can mistakenly identify the body’s own cells as the enemy, resulting in autoimmune disease.

Autoimmune diseases are those in which the body is attacked by its own specific adaptive immune response. In normal, healthy states, the immune system induces tolerance, which is a lack of an anti-self immune response. However, with autoimmunity, there is a loss of immune tolerance. Autoimmune diseases can have a variety of mixed symptoms that flare up and disappear, making diagnosis difficult.

The following are all examples of autoimmune diseases:

  • celiac disease
  • hyperthyroidism
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • multiple sclerosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • lupus

The causes of autoimmune disease are a combination of the individual’s genetic makeup and the effect of environmental influences, such as sunlight, infections, medications, and environmental chemicals. However, the vagueness of this list reflects our poor understanding of the etiology of these diseases. Except in a very few specific diseases, the initiation event(s) of most autoimmune states has not been fully characterized.

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