Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am 2002 Jun;31(2):261-82
Robles DT, Eisenbarth GS.
Medical Scientist Training Program, Department of Immunology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Box B140, 4200 East 9th Ave., Denver, CO 80262, USA.
The immune system, through a complex interplay of highly specialized cells and a seemingly endless number of soluble mediators, works to ensure protection from the potentially harmful pathogens that we encounter in our lifetime.
The development of the immune system is a compromise between the necessity to recognize foreign peptides in the context of self-molecules (MHC) and the need to be tolerant to all self-peptides.
Despite the large number of mechanisms in place to ensure the removal or suppression of self-reactive lymphocytes, the system is not 100% effective, with the occasional result of autoimmunity.
A number of autoimmune disorders occur together and a better understanding of the genetic basis underlying this association should lead to an enhanced ability to predict, diagnose, and develop therapies aimed at preventing and treating these diseases.