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Autoimmun Rev. 2012 Aug;11(10):754-65. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2012.02.001. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

Updated assessment of the prevalence, spectrum and case definition of autoimmune disease.

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ANU Medical School, Frank Fenner Building 42, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, 0200, Australia.


Autoimmune diseases are heterogeneous with regard to prevalence, manifestations, and pathogenesis. The classification of autoimmune diseases has varied over time. Here, we have compiled a comprehensive up-to-date list of the autoimmune diseases, and have reviewed published literature to estimate their prevalence. We identified 81 autoimmune diseases. The overall estimated prevalence is 4.5%, with 2.7% for males and 6.4% for females. For specific diseases, prevalence ranges from 1% to <1/10(6). Considering all diseases in the class, the most common mean age-of-onset was 40-50 years. This list of autoimmune diseases has also yielded information about autoantigens. Forty-five autoimmune diseases have been associated with well-defined autoantigens. Of the diseases with known autoantigens, 33.3% had highly repetitive sequences, 35.6% had coiled-coil arrangements and 57.8% were associated with cellular membranes, which means that based on these structural motifs alone, autoantigens do not appear to be a random sample of the human proteome. Finally, we identified 19 autoimmune diseases that phenocopy diseases arising from germline mutations in the corresponding autoantigen. Collectively, our findings lead to a tentative proposal for criteria for assigning autoimmune pathogenesis to a particular disease.

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