Articles > Connection Between Allergic Diseases And Autoimmune Diseases

Connection Between Allergic Diseases And Autoimmune Diseases

April 6, 2007 — A new study by researchers at
Children’s and the University of Washington (UW) identifies a
connection between allergic diseases such as atopic dermatitis, also
known as eczema, and autoimmune diseases. The study was published in
the April 1 edition of Nature Immunology.

Approximately 75 percent of autoimmune diseases occur in women, most
frequently during the childbearing years. These diseases also comprise
a significant portion of chronic childhood disorders. Autoimmune
disease refers to a group of more than 80 serious, chronic illnesses
including diseases of the nervous, gastrointestinal, and endocrine
systems as well as skin and other connective tissues, eyes, blood, and
blood vessel. In all of these diseases, the underlying problem is
similar—the body’s immune system (including B and/or T immune cells)
becomes misdirected, attacking the very organs it was designed to
protect.

“Our study implies that allergic and inflammatory diseases may
actually trigger autoimmune diseases by relaxing the controls that
normally eliminate newly produced, self-reactive B cells. This is
important because many autoimmune diseases are caused by self-reactive
antibodies produced by such B cells” said Dr. David Rawlings lead
researcher and section head of Immunology at Children’s Hospital and
the UW.

Researchers at Children’s are now trying to discover specifically
where the “relaxation” in the control of B cell autoimmunity takes
place. “In association with other UW laboratories, we also have begun
to study drugs that can counter some of these effects. One such drug
helps to prevent autoimmune kidney disease in a related animal model,”
said Rawlings.

In addition to Dr. David Rawlings, other authors of the study
included Alexander Astrakhan, Thuc Nguyen, MD and Shirly Becker-Herman,
PhD.

Source : Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center of Seattle


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