Hungarian Immunology

[On the role of aging in etiology of autoimmunity]

SEMSEI Imre, ZEHER Margit, BAKÓ Gyula

DECEMBER 20, 2002

Hungarian Immunology - 2002;1(04)

[Several types of diseases, among others autoimmune illnesses, could be coupled with the general processes of aging. The two-edged sword of the immune defense is directed once against environmental attacks and on the other side against the self. However, one has to make a difference between normal (physiological) clearance and autoimmune diseases, although both sides of autoimmunity are influenced by the general processes of senescence. Aging of the thymus seems to be one of the key elements of the etiology of autoimmunity, although other cell types and their aging also play a substantial role in this process. The spontaneous genetic instability, the acquired genetic mutations due to aging and the age-related alterations of the information level of the body together may be important elements of the patomechanism of both the physiological autoimmunity and the autoimmune diseases. Nevertheless, physiological autoimmunity seems to be directed mostly by natural factors (such as aging and apoptosis) but primary autoimmune diseases may be caused by genetic instability that is enhanced by aging as well.]

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