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Inflammatory & Autoimmune

Systemic autoimmune diseases are a large group of disorders that have a primary pathogenic mechanism that involves the immune system acting on the host itself which leads to tissue destruction and organ dysfunction due to unregulated inflammation. These disorders are called autoimmune collagen-vascular diseases or auoimmune connective tissue diseases. Many also involve inflammation of blood vessels, or vasculitis. 

The cause of systemic autoimmune diseases is unknown, but genetic factors  predispose individuals to their development. Most of these diseases have a classic presentation with typical findings that can alert physicians to the specific diagnosis. There are also blood test abnormalities and abnormal antibody patterns that are representative of each disease. However, patients often present with atypical features or develop the full-blown clinical syndromes over time which makes it difficult for physicians to make the diagnosis. The classic autoimmune collagen vascular diseases include:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE), often referred to as 'Lupus', involves inflammation of the connective tissues and blood vessels of virtually every organ system.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disorder in which immune cells attack and inflame the membrane around joints. In some patients it also can affect the heart, lungs, and eyes.
  • Scleroderma produces scar tissue in the skin, internal organs, and small blood vessels.
  • Sjögren's syndrome, also called Sjögren's disease, is a chronic, slowly progressing inability to secrete saliva and tears. It can occur alone or with rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, or systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • Mixed connective-tissue disease (MCTD) is a disorder in which features of various connective-tissue diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), systemic sclerosis (Ssc) dermatomyosisits (DM), polymyositis (PM), and, Sjögren syndrome, can coexist and overlap.
  • Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory joint condition that occurs in about one in twenty patients with psoriasis
  • Polyarteritis nodosa is a serious blood vessel disease in which small and medium-sized arteries become inflammed and damaged.

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