People often ask how they ended up getting an autoimmune disease, a condition in which their own immune system turns on themselves and destroys healthy by-stander tissues and organs.
My response-the not-yet-proven-hypothesis that molecular mimicry results in autoimmune disease.
Molecular mimicry is a phenomenon in which tissues in the body share a “barcode”, antigenic receptors, with specific viruses or a bacteria. The immune system responds by mounting an inflammatory attack against the invading pathogen. This response targets not only the pathogen, but in addition, tissues that share the same antigenic makeup as the invading microorganism. In short, a terrible error occurs and the body starts destroying itself.
The inflammatory disease rheumatic fever is an excellent example of the possible outcome of molecular mimicry. Damage of heart valves may occur after infection with the bacteria Streptococcus. This development accounts for the panic that many parents experience when their kids come down with “strep throat”.
Antibodies, large unique proteins, are produced by the immune system when the body is exposed to pathogens. These specialized proteins attach to the invaders, “flagging” them for destruction by circulating immune cells. In the case of rheumatic fever, since bacteria and heart valve tissue look alike to the body, antibodies are produced that attach to both surfaces, triggering inflammatory immune responses ultimately resulting in damage to heart valves, as well as death of the bacteria.
The data, controversial, but compelling, is that molecular mimicry, due to viral and bacterial infections, may also be a trigger for neurological disease.
This concept is reinforced by the fact that multiple sclerosis is a condition in which nerve cells are damaged by uncontrolled levels of inflammation. Immune cell products mistakenly attack myelin proteins, which make up the protective sheath that “insulates” nerves. Damage to this covering results in nerve signals becoming intermittent, slowing down, or stopping entirely. Such nerve damage affects vision, mobility, coordination, balance, bladder, or bowel control.
A large body of data suggests that infection with herpes virus 6 and/or Epstein-Barr virus triggers inflammation that leads to nerve cell destruction. Different viruses and bacteria have been implicated as initiating inflammatory responses in other neurodegenerative diseases as well.
To understand the role of excessive inflammation in your own condition, enter the condition in combination with the word “inflammation”. The results you receive will help you understand the importance of achieving immune homeostasis, immune balance of our inflammatory responses.
Let me help you improve your quality of life, naturally. Please contact me at 302.265.3870 (USA ET) or email: DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info