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J Autoimmun. 2009 Aug;33(1):3-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2009.03.007. Epub 2009 Apr 5.

The genetics and epigenetics of autoimmune diseases.

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1
Department of Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2200, USA.

Abstract

Self tolerance loss is fundamental to autoimmunity. While understanding of immune regulation is expanding rapidly, the mechanisms causing loss of tolerance in most autoimmune diseases remain elusive. Autoimmunity is believed to develop when genetically predisposed individuals encounter environmental agents that trigger the disease. Recent advances in the genetic and environmental contributions to autoimmunity suggest that interactions between genetic elements and epigenetic changes caused by environmental agents may be responsible for inducing autoimmune disease. Genetic loci predisposing to autoimmunity are being identified through multi-center consortiums, and the number of validated genes is growing rapidly. Recent reports also indicate that the environment can contribute to autoimmunity by modifying gene expression through epigenetic mechanisms. This article will review current understanding of the genetics and epigenetics of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes, using systemic lupus erythematosus as the primary example. Other autoimmune diseases may have a similar foundation.

PMID:
19349147
PMCID:
PMC2819418
DOI:
10.1016/j.jaut.2009.03.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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