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      Autoimmunity: Basic Mechanisms and Implications in Endocrine Diseases

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          Abstract

          Autoimmunity implies disturbances at several levels of the immune control. Self-tolerance and discrimination between self and non-self synergize to avoid the development of autoimmunity. Negative selection in the thymus, the transcription factor AIRE, CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells, and dendritic cells cooperate to produce and maintain tolerance. Cytokines modulate deriving immune processes and influence the local micro-environment. Multiple mechanisms are involved in tolerance breakdown: genetic factors (major histocompatibility complex haplotypes, polymorphisms in the cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen gene and epigenetic alterations), environmental factors (mainly infections), impaired apoptosis, and the emergence of autoreactive naive lymphocytes. These events may be involved in the pathogenesis of endocrine diseases at several levels.

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          Most cited references 50

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          Homozygous C1q deficiency causes glomerulonephritis associated with multiple apoptotic bodies.

          The complement system plays a paradoxical role in the development and expression of autoimmunity in humans. The activation of complement in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) contributes to tissue injury. In contrast, inherited deficiency of classical pathway components, particularly C1q (ref. 1), is powerfully associated with the development of SLE. This leads to the hypothesis that a physiological action of the early part of the classical pathway protects against the development of SLE (ref. 2) and implies that C1q may play a key role in this respect. C1q-deficient (C1qa-/-) mice were generated by gene targeting and monitored for eight months. C1qa-/- mice had increased mortality and higher titres of autoantibodies, compared with strain-matched controls. Of the C1qa-/- mice, 25% had glomerulonephritis with immune deposits and multiple apoptotic cell bodies. Among mice without glomerulonephritis, there were significantly greater numbers of glomerular apoptotic bodies in C1q-deficient mice compared with controls. The phenotype associated with C1q deficiency was modified by background genes. These findings are compatible with the hypothesis that C1q deficiency causes autoimmunity by impairment of the clearance of apoptotic cells.
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            Promiscuous gene expression in medullary thymic epithelial cells mirrors the peripheral self.

            Expression of peripheral antigens in the thymus has been implicated in T cell tolerance and autoimmunity. Here we identified medullary thymic epithelial cells as being a unique cell type that expresses a diverse range of tissue-specific antigens. We found that this promiscuous gene expression was a cell-autonomous property of medullary epithelial cells and was maintained during the entire period of thymic T cell output. It may facilitate tolerance induction to self-antigens that would otherwise be temporally or spatially secluded from the immune system. However, the array of promiscuously expressed self-antigens appeared random rather than selected and was not confined to secluded self-antigens.
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              Dominant interfering Fas gene mutations impair apoptosis in a human autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome.

              Five unrelated children are described with a rare autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS) characterized by massive nonmalignant lymphadenopathy, autoimmune phenomena, and expanded populations of TCR-CD3+CD4-CD8- lymphocytes. These findings, suggesting a genetic defect in the ability of T lymphocytes to respond to normal immunoregulatory mechanisms, prompted an evaluation of lymphocyte apoptosis. Each child had defective Fas-mediated T lymphocyte apoptosis associated with a unique, deleterious Fas gene mutation. One mutation appeared to cause a simple loss of function; however, four others had a dominant negative phenotype when coexpressed with normal Fas. Family studies demonstrated the inheritance of the mutant Fas alleles. The occurrence of Fas mutations together with abnormal T cell apoptosis in ALPS patients suggests an involvement of Fas in this recently recognized disorder of lymphocyte homeostasis and peripheral self-tolerance.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                HRE
                Horm Res Paediatr
                10.1159/issn.1663-2818
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                1663-2818
                1663-2826
                2006
                August 2006
                11 August 2006
                : 66
                : 3
                : 132-141
                Affiliations
                aDepartment of Paediatrics, Anna Meyer Children’s Hospital, University of Florence, Florence, and bDepartment of Paediatrics, University of Chieti, Chieti, Italy
                Article
                94251 Horm Res 2006;66:132–141
                10.1159/000094251
                16807508
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                Page count
                Figures: 5, References: 67, Pages: 10
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