Autoimmune reactions reflect an imbalance between effector and regulatory immune responses, typically develop through stages of initiation and propagation, and often show phases of resolution (indicated by clinical remissions) and exacerbations (indicated by symptomatic flares). The fundamental underlying mechanism of autoimmunity is defective elimination and/or control of self-reactive lymphocytes. Studies in humans and experimental animal models are revealing the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to autoimmunity. A major goal of research in this area is to exploit this knowledge to better understand the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases and to develop strategies for reestablishing the normal balance between effector and regulatory immune responses.
Michael D. Rosenblum, Kelly A. Remedios, Abul K. Abbas
Genetic susceptibility, environmental stimuli, and defective regulation are responsible for initiating autoimmunity.