Multiple Sclerosis: The ability of the immune system to discriminate between "self" and "non-self" antigens
Posted Nov 17 2009 10:20pm
Novel methods of therapy of neuroautoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, neuroboreliosis as well as autism
The ability of the immune system to discriminate between "self" and "non-self" antigens is vital to the functioning of the immune system as a specific defense against invading microorganisms. "Non-self" antigens are those antigens on substances entering or present in the body which are detectably different or foreign from the animal's own constituents, whereas "self" antigens are those which, in the healthy animal, are not detectably different or foreign from its own constituents.
However, under certain conditions, including in certain disease states, an individual's immune system will identify its own constituents as "non-self," and initiate an immune response against "self" material, at times causing more damage or discomfort as from an invading microbe or foreign material, and often producing serious illness in an individual. Autoimmune disease results when an individual's immune system attacks his own organs or tissues, producing a clinical condition associated with the destruction of that organ or tissue, as exemplified by diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome ("AIDS"), hemolytic anemias, rheumatic fever, Crohn's disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome, psoriasis, thyroiditis, Graves' disease, myasthenia gravis, autism, glomerulonephritis, autoimmune hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, and the like.