Trends Mol Med. 2003 Aug;9(8):331-8
Ghoreschi K, Rocken M.
Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center, Eberhard Karls University Tuebingen, Liebermeisterstr. 25, 72076, Tuebingen, Germany
Organ-specific autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune diabetes, are initiated by aberrant activation of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma)-producing T helper 1 (Th1) cells that recognize self-peptides expressed inside these organs.
Together, these diseases affect 3-5% of the population.
Predisposing factors, such as susceptibility genes and environmental factors, are difficult to influence, and hence research has focused on the deviation of disease-inducing IFN-gamma-producing Th1 cells into an interleukin-4-producing T helper 2 (Th2) cell phenotype with anti-inflammatory properties.
Such immune deviation was first established as a therapy in mice and recently as therapy for humans suffering from inflammatory autoimmune disease.
In the future, DNA-based vaccines might allow the induction of Th2 cells that protect against inflammatory autoimmune disease, thereby establishing safe and specific immune therapies.