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Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1996 Feb;25(4):215-33.

Adhesion molecules in autoimmune disease.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson 39214-4505, USA.


Leukocyte activation, circulation, and localization to inflammatory sites are dependent on adherence to molecules on other cells or to extracellular matrix ligands. Adhesion molecule expression and interactions are probably involved in initiation and propagation of autoimmune diseases. Adhesion molecules pertinent to the development of autoimmunity are the subject of this review. Material in this review was generated by a manual and a computerized search of medical literature pertaining to adhesion molecules and specific autoimmune diseases. Topics covered include adhesion molecule classification, regulation of adhesion, and characterization of adhesion receptors in specific autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren's syndrome, autoimmune thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes mellitus. Adhesion molecules are classified into selectin, integrin, and immunoglobulin supergene family groups. Increased adhesion molecule expression and avidity changes occurring with cellular activation are the principal methods regulating leukocyte adhesion. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), and interleukin-1 (IL-1) stimulate adhesion receptor expression on lymphoid and nonlymphoid tissues. Although differences between specific autoimmune diseases exist, key interactions facilitating the development of autoimmune inflammation appear to include L-selectin/P-selectin/E-selectin, lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1)/intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), very late antigen-4 (VLA-4)/vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), and alpha 4B7/MadCAM or VCAM-1 adhesion. Administration of anti-adhesion molecule antibodies in experimental animal models of autoimmunity and in a preliminary trial with RA patients has been successful in preventing or reducing autoimmune disease severity. A vast array of adhesive interactions occurs between immunocompetent cells, endothelium, extracellular matrix, and target tissues during the evolution of an autoimmune disease. Further characterization of leukocyte migration patterns and adherence should clarify pathogenic processes in specific autoimmune diseases and identify potential therapeutic targets for their treatment.

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