Autoimmune reaction, trigger

Autoimmune reaction, trigger

In some autoimmune diseases, bacteria or virus triggers an immune response, and the antibodies or T cells can attack certain cells of the body because the latter have some elements of their structure (genetic determinants) resembling or common to a part of the structure of the infecting microorganism. A typical example is rheumatic fever. If the disease gets its name from joint symptoms, the severity is related to its cardiac effects. These are due to an autoimmune response directed against different parts of the heart, including the valves. Streptococci, following a banal angina untreated by antibiotics, in fact induce an immune response that somehow turns against the heart. Interestingly, a large number of subjects are healthy carriers of these streptococci but do not develop angina, only a very small minority develops rheumatic fever. This echoes the importance of genetic factors, although it is a factor of the environment (bacteria) that started it all.

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