Infectious diseases and autoimmunity

  • Lucia Gemma Delogu Department of Drug Science, University of Sassari, Italy
  • Silvia Deidda Department of Clinical, Experimental and Oncological Medicine, University of Sassari, Italy
  • Giuseppe Delitala Department of Clinical, Experimental and Oncological Medicine, University of Sassari, Italy
  • Roberto Manetti Department of Clinical, Experimental and Oncological Medicine, University of Sassari, Italy

Abstract

Introduction: Autoimmunity occurs when the immune system recognizes and attacks host tissue. In addition to genetic factors, environmental triggers (in particular viruses, bacteria and other infectious pathogens) are thought to play a major role in the development of autoimmune diseases.

Methodology: We searched PubMed, Cochrane, and Scopus without time limits for relevant articles.

Results: In this review, we (i) describe the ways in which an infectious agent can initiate or exacerbate autoimmunity; (ii) discuss the evidence linking certain infectious agents to autoimmune diseases in humans; and (iii) describe the animal models used to study the link between infection and autoimmunity.

Conclusions: Besides genetic predisposition to autoimmunity, viral and bacterial infections are known to be involved in the initiation and promotion of autoimmune diseases. These studies suggest that pathogens can trigger autoimmunity through molecular mimicry and their adjuvant effects during initiation of disease, and can promote autoimmune responses through bystander activation or epitope spreading via inflammation and/or superantigens.

Author Biographies

Lucia Gemma Delogu, Department of Drug Science, University of Sassari, Italy
Department of Drug Science - University of Sassari
Silvia Deidda, Department of Clinical, Experimental and Oncological Medicine, University of Sassari, Italy
Department of Clinical, Experimental and Oncological Medicine - University of Sassari
Giuseppe Delitala, Department of Clinical, Experimental and Oncological Medicine, University of Sassari, Italy
Department of Clinical, Experimental and Oncological Medicine - University of Sassari
Roberto Manetti, Department of Clinical, Experimental and Oncological Medicine, University of Sassari, Italy
Department of Clinical, Experimental and Oncological Medicine - University of Sassari
Published
2011-10-11
How to Cite
Delogu L, Deidda S, Delitala G, Manetti R (2011) Infectious diseases and autoimmunity. The Journal Of Infection In Developing Countries 5 (10): 679-687. https://doi.org/10.3855/jidc.2061
Section
Reviews

Keywords

viral infection; bacterial infection; autoreactive lymphocyte; molecular mimicry; bystander activation; epitope spreading; autoimmune disease