Immunoassays for autoimmunity diagnostics
Autoimmune (AI) diseases develop if the immune system fails to recognize substances (usually proteins) or tissues normally present in the body as “self” and therefore mounts an aberrant immune response against them.
Over 80 different AI diseases have been recognized to date.
AI diseases are chronic diseases, and potentially debilitating or even life-threatening. In Western-type industrialized nations, AI diseases are the third leading cause of morbidity. In studies covering many AI diseases, genetic predispositions have been observed.
AI diseases may be restricted to a specific organ (e.g. type 1 diabetes mellitus, autoimmune thyroiditis, autoimmune adrenal insufficiency), or involve a tissue or molecule present at various sites of the body (e.g. myasthenia gravis).
Treatment goals for AI diseases include control of the symptoms (e.g. insulin injections in type 1 diabetes) and control of the autoimmune process (e.g. immunosuppression).
Many AI diseases are characterized by autoantibodies. Therefore, determination of autoantibodies may be helpful to (1) diagnose an AI disease, (2) monitor the effectiveness of AI disease treatment, and (3) monitor AI disease remissions, relapses and flares.