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Future Virol. 2010 May 1;5(3):273-286.

Autoimmunity in Coxsackievirus B3 induced myocarditis: role of estrogen in suppressing autoimmunity.

[No authors listed]


Picornaviruses are small, non-enveloped, single stranded, positive sense RNA viruses which cause multiple diseases including myocarditis/dilated cardiomyopathy, type 1 diabetes, encephalitis, myositis, orchitis and hepatitis. Although picornaviruses directly kill cells, tissue injury primarily results from autoimmunity to self antigens. Viruses induce autoimmunity by: aborting deletion of self-reactive T cells during T cell ontogeny; reversing anergy of peripheral autoimmune T cells; eliminating T regulatory cells; stimulating self-reactive T cells through antigenic mimicry or cryptic epitopes; and acting as an adjuvant for self molecules released during virus infection. Most autoimmune diseases (SLE, rheumatoid arthritis, Grave's disease) predominate in females, but diseases associated with picornavirus infections predominate in males. T regulatory cells are activated in infected females because of the combined effects of estrogen and innate immunity.

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