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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2013 Mar 1;5(3):a007294. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a007294.

Microbiota and autoimmunity.

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Department of Pathology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


The commensal microbiota affects many aspects of mammalian health including control of the immune system to such a extent that a "commensalocentric" view of the maintenance of overall health could be suggested. Autoimmunity is a case of mistaken identity: The immune system reacts to self-tissues and cells as if they were pathogens. Autoimmune reactions can be both advanced or blocked by the commensal microbiota, which can affect innate and adaptive arms of immune responses as well as the mechanisms of "innate-adaptive connection." Whether specific microbial lineages affect immunity and autoimmunity (the "specific lineage hypothesis") or multiple lineages can tip the homeostatic balance that regulates host/microbiota homeostasis toward reduced or enhanced host reactivity (the "balanced signal hypothesis") is yet unknown. The complexity of host/microbiota interactions needs to be fully appreciated in order to find the means for prophylaxis and treatment of autoimmune disorders.

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