Autoimmune Diseases

There is a remarkable range of autoimmune diseases. Almost every system of the body may be involved in an autoimmune process.


The spectrum of autoimmune disease spans conditions with involvement of a single organ (e.g. Hashimoto's thyroiditis) through to those with involvement of all systems in the body (e.g. SLE). The distribution of the auto-antigen largely determines the manifestations of the disease.


For detailed description of individual autoimmune diseases we refer to the specialist books. A small selection is listed below. Some definition of special autoimmune diseases can be found on the site autoimmune markers.

Clustering of autoimmune diseases  

In the non-organ-specific autoimmune disease there is often an overlap of autoantibody profiles and clinical features in the same individual. Thus a patient may present with some features of SLE and some features of scleroderma and is said to have an "overlap syndrome". It is also possible for the same individual to have two quite different autoimmune diseases (e.g. thyroid disease and rheumatoid arthritis) simultaneously. This happens far more frequently than one would expect by chance. Similarly there may be clustering of autoimmune diseases within the same family. This phenomenon can be explained in part by the underlying genetic basis of these diseases but this does not account for one sister in a sibship developing pernicious anemia while another develops Hashimoto's thyroiditis.  

Further specialist books:  

  • Rose NR, Mackay IR (1998) The autoimmune diseases, 3rd edition. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, USA
  • Ollier W, Symmons DPM (1992) Autoimmunity. BIOS Scientific Publishers Limited, Oxford, Great Britain  
  • Stites DP, Terr AI, Parslow TG (1997) Medical Immunology, 9th edition. Appleton & Lange, Stamford, CT, USA