Category Archives: Autoimmune disease

25 Secrets of People with chronic Illness

25 Secrets of People With Chronic Illnesses
Elisabeth Brentano By Elisabeth Brentano Feb 11, 2016
This article discusses aGeneral topic in our community

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Nearly 133 million Americans have some sort of chronic illness, and that number is expected to reach 157 million by 2020, according to data on the Invisible Illness Week website.

From exhaustion to migraines to fatigue, many chronic illness symptoms aren’t visible to the naked eye, which makes them even more difficult to diagnose — and understand.

With a growing number of people affected by chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia, arthritis, Lyme disease, Crohn’s disease and diabetes and more, it’s important to both raise awareness and let others know how to respond to the needs of individuals living with these conditions.

So we asked readers in our Facebook community what truths about chronic illness they wish others understood. Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Some days you can function, some you can’t.” —Amber Wandmaker

Woman on beach

2. “I’m not lazy. I’m in pain, exhausted and quite possibly depressed because I feel useless and cannot make others understand what I go through on a daily basis.” —Jodie Farber Brubacher

3. “It’s not in my head.” —Christine Olson Smith

Writing on notepad

4. “When I’m pushing through… I’m really pushing myself too hard.” —Debra Declue

5. “Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not real.” —Rhonda Miller-Solomon

Magnifying glass, close-up, cropped

6. “Accepting the fact that I will never get better is what has allowed me to live my life and continue to work towards my goals without waiting to ‘get better.’” —Joan Elizabeth

7. “A good day for people with chronic pain… is often just ‘less of a bad day.’” —Ann Webb Bradford

8. “Being immune compromised/suppressed isn’t a game; it’s dangerous. When I say I can’t get sick, I’m not being paranoid; I’m being careful. Life’s no good when you’re dead!” —Arianna Nyswonger

9. “I’ve become an expert on hiding my pain from everyone.” —Beth Cox Harrell

Woman looking through blinds

10. “Chronic illness often comes in multiple versions; treating one can mean making another one worse.” —Zoann Murphy

11. “I can’t remember what ‘well’ feels like.” —Sandra Williams

12. “Good can change to bad in a matter of minutes. There are good days and bad days, but there are also good hours and bad hours, good minutes and bad minutes. Chronic illness does not see or understand time.” —Deanna Guarino-Embry

Clock on wall

13. “There’s no such thing as ‘too young;’ we can’t just show out bodies ID and tell the illness to come back in 10-20 years!” —Jen Andrew

14. “It doesn’t get better. It is this way. Every day. Forever. If you’re in my life, please don’t ask me if I’m feeling ‘better’ today.” —Wendy Rose

Old man feeling sick

15. “We shouldn’t be treated like drug addicts or hypochondriacs and denied the care we truly need.” —Amy Brandborg

16. “I live a double life. What you see when I am at work: someone who is well put together, always dependable, smiling, will always tell you she is doing fine. My reality: I’m a mess, in so much pain, my smiles are forced, sometimes I have to find a quiet place to cry. But it’s much easier for me to fake it because coworkers don’t want to hear my truth day after day.” —Amber Weller

Woman in front of mirror

17. “A ‘good attitude’ doesn’t take away pain or improve mobility. I am still human and I will have days when I just can’t drum up that ‘good attitude.’” —Vicki Gomes Petilli

Woman standing in field barefoot

18. “I didn’t do this to myself. I didn’t not pray hard enough or believe hard enough. I didn’t not eat well enough or not exercise enough.” —Barb Silvestro

19. “It hurts to be forgotten because we have said no to so many events, parties, family gatherings, shopping trips, etc. I want them to still ask just so I know they are still thinking of me.” —Victoria Sinclair

Upset woman with grey hair

20. “There is no magic cure. I don’t want to be sick, but this is my reality. I can’t wish it away or cleanse it away or take supplements because your sister’s boyfriend’s mother did.” —Christina Marroquin-Mauricio

Spoon with heart in it

21. “People don’t choose to feel horrible every day and lose the person they used to be.” –Caitlin Hoechst

22. “What I can do one day I might not be able to do the next.” —Becky Rider

23. “I’m not making it up. If I wanted to fake an illness, I would choose something that people would believe!” —Faith Merryn

Upset man

24. “My downtime doesn’t mean I’m depressed or isolating. It’s a time for me to heal and recharge.” —Kate Wilhelmi

25. “My illness does not define me, my dreams or who I am!” —Judy Fox Berryan

Woman on the beach

What’s one truth about chronic illness you wish others understood? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to visit our new Facebook page, Chronic Illness on The Mighty.

All images via ThinkStock

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Flu shot and Attack.

As several of you know I have a autoimmune disease of the ear, not fun,   It isn’t enough that I have to be dizzy, nauseated, zero balance can’t think straight, but I got a flu shot and with in 3 hours I had a full on attack and can’t kick it!  Can’t get a break for even 5 minutes.  Now we are getting some rain today, tomorrow, and Sunday and I get worse with the barometric pressure changes.  I guess that’s why we get depressed is when you don’t get a break.  This has been 5 full days now, well see what tomorrow brings, maybe just a couple hours of a break would be so appreciated.  I can’t guarantee it was the shot, but it happened just hours after the shot.  Gotta rethink next year.  Kelly

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Eat Organic if you have Autoimmune Disease

3 Reasons to Eat Organic If You Have an Autoimmune Disease

October 16th, 2015

Reasons to Eat Organic

3 Reasons to Eat Organic If You Have an Autoimmune Disease

Do you know how many toxins are lurking in your fruits, on your veggies, and in that chicken breast? If they aren’t 100% US Certified organic, then you really have no idea.

The reality is that toxic chemicals are virtually unavoidable in non-organic food. Modern conventional farming practices are now built around the widespread use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), synthetic pesticides and herbicides, and the liberal use of antibiotics and growth hormones, the majority of which have not been adequately tested for safety. In fact, a Pew Research Center report found that 80% of the chemical additives found in food lack the research needed to determine how much a person can safely ingest without negative consequences.

The cumulative impact of daily exposure to these toxins increases your risk of developing an autoimmune disease, and can cause your condition to progress if you’ve already been diagnosed. As I explain in my book, The Autoimmune Solution, and this blog post, reducing your toxic burden is one of the four key pillars of preventing and reversing autoimmune disease, and understanding how to avoid toxic chemicals in your food is a great place to start!

Here we’ll look at three reasons organic food is healthier for you, particularly if you have an autoimmune disease or inflammatory condition, and I’ll share helpful tips for eating organic on a budget, including a special giveaway from Thrive Market!

 

1. Pesticides Have Been Directly Linked to Autoimmune Disease

Although exposure to any toxins should be minimized in order to reduce your risk of developing an autoimmune disease, pesticides are especially risky because they have been directly linked with autoimmune disease.

In one 2007 study, 300,000 death certificates over a 14-year period showed that farmers who were exposed to pesticides while working with crops were more likely to die from a systemic autoimmune disease. Recent research has even linked household pesticides with an increased risk for developing autoimmune diseases, including Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus.

It’s important to note that many of the pesticides used in conventional farming are systemic, meaning they become an integral part of the plant and its products, and cannot be washed off. An apple that has been grown in a pesticide-filled orchard, for example, has integrated the pesticides into that sweet white part that tastes so good, so washing it won’t wash off the pesticides.

 

2. Non-Organic Meat Contains Growth Hormones & Antibiotics

American livestock is regularly injected with engineered growth hormones, designed to increase animal size, get animals large enough for slaughter faster, and ramp up milk production. These growth hormones may increase insulin-like growth factor, elevated levels of which have been associated with an increased risk of breast, prostate, and other cancers.

Besides growth hormones, cows, chicken, and pigs are also routinely give courses of antibiotics, both because they are highly susceptible to infection from living in such crowded and dirty conditions, and because regular doses of antibiotics cause animals to grow faster. The frequent use of antibiotics in livestock helps breed antibiotic-resistant “supergerms” that our immune systems have a very difficult time fighting. These super bugs can be particularly dangerous in those who are immunosuppressed, as many people taking medications for autoimmune disease are.

 

3. Organic Produce is More Nutritious

A recent study proved that organic foods are richer in nutrients and antioxidants and lower in heavy metals, especially cadmium, and pesticides. Other studies suggest that good soil nutrition increases the production of cancer-fighting compounds, called flavonoids, and that conventional farming practices like pesticide and herbicide use disturb their production.

 

Tips for Going Organic

Now that you know the hazards associated with toxic pesticides, dangerous hormones, and unnecessary antibiotics, let’s focus on what you can do to minimize your risk. Eating organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised foods will significantly reduce your toxic burden and will ensure that you eat wholesome, nutritious meals. In fact, a study in 2005 demonstrated that in as little as 15 days, children adopting a primarily organic diet experienced a dramatic decrease in urinary concentrations of organophosphorus pesticides.

I know that switching to all organic foods can be expensive, and even logistically challenging if you live in an area without many grocery store options, so here are a few tips to make transitioning to an organic diet as feasible and convenient as possible.

1. Start with organic, pasture raised chicken and grass-fed beef. Animals are at the top of the food chain, so if they’re eating food laced with toxins, then you’re getting those chemicals magnified many times. Prioritize eating organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised meats.
2. Prioritize the “Dirty Dozen.” The Environmental Working Group maintains a list of the twelve foods that have the highest concentration of pesticides. If you can only buy some of your produce items organic, pick these.
3. Eventually adopt the “Clean Fifteen.” Also maintained by EWG, the fruits and veggies on this list contain the lowest concentration of chemicals, and can be prioritized third.

I’ve created a handy, printable version of The Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen lists that you can bring with you to the grocery store. Download your free copy below!

ewgDownload2

 

Where to Buy Organic Groceries Online

Although I buy my fruits and veggies fresh from the grocery store, it can sometimes be more convenient and even less expensive to buy organic meat, seafood, and pantry products online. Here are three of my favorite resources for buying 100% Certified Organic groceries online.

1. U.S. Wellness Meats – I love knowing that all of the meat I order from U.S. Wellness Meats is organic, grass-fed, and free-range. They have a wide variety of beef, bison, lamb, chicken, pork, and more.

2. Vital Choice – Salmon is a staple in my household, and I frequently order wild-caught, Alaskan salmon (which is lowest in mercury) so that I always have some on hand.

3. Thrive Market – Thrive Market offers wholesome products at wholesale prices through their unique membership-based online marketplace that provides healthy foods and toxin-free household products at 25 – 50% below retail prices. You can shop by “values” including certified organic, gluten-free, paleo, etc. Use this link and you’ll get a free 30-day trial membership, plus 15% off your first order, and a free jar of coconut oil (a $25 value,

 

 

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A life with An Invisible Illness.

Invisible illnesses are just as it sounds invisible, You can’t see them, no obvious symptoms to the naked eye.  That being said, living with a invisible illness is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  Not only living with the daily symptoms, but living with the unknown.  Will I be able to attend the function on Monday?  Will I be able to drive to my Doctor’s appointment on Tuesday?  What if I get lost?  What if I have a attack?  What If I have a drop attack?  I always carry my medication with me and a bottle of water as if it were a security blanket.  Is it really going to help in this situation? No , but it makes me feel better.  I only will allow my self to drive 3 or so miles and I have to feel better than normal to drive, so its not on a regular basis, I have to have some one drive me places, which makes me feel bad.  My sensory system is in such overload, lights, patterns on carpets, wallpaper, crazy bright colors really bother me.  I can’t handle music even though I am deaf in one ear and going deaf in the other, it causes confusion in my brain.  A lot of people in one area cause confusion.  You loose friends and your co-workers or family members question your illness?  I have never actually wanted anyone to have my disease which is autoimmune disease, Vestibular dysfunction, deafness, fibromyalgsia, extreme fatigue.  But at the same time If they could experience it for one day, maybe they would understand.  Invisible illnesses are not easy to diagnose or treat and most are not curable, I use to hope this MRI is going to show a tumor that can be removed and I will have my life back and that is just not the case, I am meditating which can be a challenge in itself, with all the noise in my head and spinning, eye pain, ear pain.  It’s depressing, but I had to take a new approach to my disease and not let it define me, also had to think of this as a gift! Am I crazy?  Yes I look at this as a gift to understand what others are going through and trying to help them through there journey.  I know it sounds strange, Yes I wish I was healthy but until a miracle happens I can help others.  If any of you are dealing with this world, talk to me, I can try to help you if not support you in your journey.

Have a wonderful Saturday, Kelly

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Autoimmune disease, vestibular Dysfunction, Fibromyalgsia took my health and my career

I have always worked in my life, Proud of being being able to raise my kids and live our life the way we did, we hadn’t gone to Disney land, or drove a fancy car, but we had a home, home made food, nothing out of a box, the boys were in Soccer, Karate, Swimming, cub scouts, and boy scouts, Our house was the neighborhood house, I loved having all the kids at our house, although our house wasn’t 3000 square feet it was home and nice home, and although we couldn’t really vacation , we camped in the back yard and used a tent trailer in the front yard and made up vacations in our imagination, food and house decorations to match the vacation, I worked in the hair business for a while before realizing it wasn’t coming from my heart, so I started working in the medical field, first in the operating room then Labor and delivery then 15 years at a Dr’s office and I loved my job, it didn’t feel like work to me, I was doing what I was meant to do.  I believed in everything The Dr I worked for did, I really believed his first interest was the patients. My loyalty will always be there.   But my illness took that away from me, how devastating that was to me to give up what I believe was meant to do.  But with employers it comes down to, you become a liability, there afraid you are going to make mistakes, although there wasn’t any made.  The comments said behind your back about working with a employee with a disability was heart crushing to me, Co workers I thought that were my friends, my family and I came home from work the last 6 months crying every day because of how I was being treated by a particular employee at my job, she made me feel so bad about myself and I was allowing her to make me sicker and sicker and my husband said there is no job worth this.  I thought about it and he was right, I was loyal for 15 years and my intention was to retire when the Doctor did, but this particular employee did everything  she could to make my life a living hell.  The Doctor didn’t want to hear it, so  I went to a disability attorney and found out my rights and found out I could sue due to her behavior, her discriminating words not only against me but applicants for jobs,  but I didn’t want to hurt the Doctor or the practice or keep the negativity in my life.  She was toxic and broken and I couldn’t let her treat me that way anymore, so I left.  It was the best decision I ever made.  Although I am still sick I don’t have that added stress and toxicity in my life.   My job was for the patients, and that’s why they liked me and felt safe with me, they knew I would take care of them.  But most patients are on my facebook page and keep in contact.  When I run into patients they hug me and tell me how much they miss me and the office isn’t the same with out me.  So I know I made a impact and now my heart is to help others with invisible illnesses.  So i am still doing my hearts work just in a different way.  My support group is awesome and when we share our tears and we share our stories, I know I am on the right road.  Kelly

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Reasons to give up Gluten if you have Autoimmune Disease by Amy Meyers

3 Important Reasons to Give Up Gluten If You Have an Autoimmune Disease

Do you have Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s, Multiple Sclerosis, or any other autoimmune disease? If so, I can say without a doubt that gluten sparked the flame of your disease, and continuing to eat it is simply adding fuel to the fire.

Gluten, a protein naturally found in certain grains, is now found nearly everywhere in our modern world. It’s of course in flour-based foods such as pasta and bread, but it is also used as a filler in medications and supplements, it’s the glue that holds meat substitutes together, it’s in body products such as shampoo and toothpaste, and, thanks to cross-contamination, it’s even in grains that are marked gluten-free.

I want to point out that our modern-day gluten is not the same gluten that your grandparents ate. In order to create ever fluffier pastries and hardier wheat, scientists developed new hybrid strains of wheat that contain entirely new forms of gluten not found in any of the original plants, and this is what makes our muffins and bagels bigger and fluffier. Scientists were also able to deaminate gluten which allows it to be dissolved into liquids and other products that didn’t previously contain gluten, like lunch meat and shampoo. These two factors mean that we are not only eating a different kind of gluten than our ancestors ate, we are eating and being exposed way more of it.

This modified and now ubiquitous protein causes problems with both your gut health and your immune system, creating a perfect storm for the development and progression of inflammatory and autoimmune disease. Even if you do not have an inflammatory or autoimmune disease, eating gluten can still be harmful to your health, as it has been linked with more than 55 diseases. The bottom line is that if you have an autoimmune disease, or any inflammatory condition, you shouldn’t be eating gluten, period. Here are three reasons why

1. Gluten Causes Leaky Gut

When you eat gluten, whether via a piece of bread, the filler in your lunch meats, or one of many hidden sources, it travels through your stomach and arrives in your small intestine, where we know from Dr. Alessio Fasano’s research that it triggers the release of zonulin. Zonulin is a chemical that signals the tight junctions of your intestinal wall to open up, creating intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut.

You can think of your gut lining kind of like a drawbridge. Teeny tiny boats (micronutrients in food) that are meant to travel back and forth are able to go under the bridge without a problem. But, when gluten releases zonulin, it causes the drawbridge to go up, allowing bigger boats (large proteins like gluten) to cross over that aren’t meant to travel through. In the case of your gut, it’s microbes, toxins, proteins, and partially digested food particles that are passing under the drawbridge and escaping into your bloodstream.

This condition of leaky gut has been shown via Dr. Fasano’s research (and I’ve confirmed it in my own practice) to be one of the preconditions for developing an autoimmune disease. And, once you have an autoimmune disease, leaving your leaky gut untreated can cause your condition to progress and places you at higher risk of developing another autoimmune disease. So what is the link between a leaky gut and autoimmune disease?

Since all of the toxins, microbes, and food particles such as gluten now flooding your bloodstream aren’t supposed to be there, your immune system marks them as dangerous invaders and creates inflammation to get rid of them, which leads us to point number two.

2. Gluten Causes Inflammation

If you have an autoimmune disease, then that means that somewhere along the way, your immune system went rogue and began attacking your body’s own tissues. This change from healthy to autoimmune isn’t instantaneous, it happens over years. As I explain in my book, it’s a spectrum, and the factor that pushes you up the spectrum and towards autoimmunity is inflammation.

 

Inflammation is your immune system’s natural response to anything it deems dangerous, whether that’s a cut, a virus, or the gluten that you ate in a piece of birthday cake that slipped through your leaky gut. It’s estimated that one percent of the population has Celiac disease and one in 30 people have a gluten sensitivity—and eating gluten causes inflammation every time they eat it. What’s more, an estimated 99 percent of people with gluten sensitivity are undiagnosed, so they are fanning the flames of their inflammation without even knowing it.

When your immune system is continuously creating inflammation in response to the gluten you’re eating, your leaky gut, and the microbes and toxins flooding your bloodstream, you develop chronic inflammation. Your immune system is now stressed and is less able to attack pathogens and invaders with precision. Instead, it begins indiscriminately sending wave after wave of attack in a desperate attempt to fight off the invaders. Eventually, your body’s own tissues end up on the receiving end of the attack, and you end up with an autoimmune disease.

The only way to give your immune system the break it needs to regain its precision so that it can stop mistakenly attacking you, is to remove gluten entirely. That last word, entirely, is important because recent research has shown that eating gluten can elevate your gluten antibodies for up to three months, meaning that even if you only ate gluten four times a year, you would be in a state of inflammation year-round.

3. Gluten Looks Like Your own Tissues

Beyond creating a leaky gut, gluten poses a serious risk for those of us with autoimmunity because of a phenomenon called molecular mimicry, which is a dangerous case of mistaken identity.

Every time your body is exposed to an invader (in this case gluten), your immune system memorizes its structure so that it can develop the perfect defense to that pathogen and recognize it in the future. Unfortunately, the immune system’s recognition system isn’t perfect; as long as a molecule’s structure is similar enough, the immune system registers it as an invader and attacks. Gluten, which is a particularly large protein, happens to be structurally similar to a number of your body’s tissues, particularly your thyroid. Remember, if you have an autoimmune disease, you have a leaky gut and when your ‘drawbridge is open’ large proteins like gluten get into your bloodstream where your immune system detects and attacks them.

In those with autoimmune thyroid disease, every time they eat gluten the immune system sends out antibodies to detect and destroy the gluten, but since the gluten and thyroid gland looks so similar some of those immune cells end up attacking the thyroid by mistake.

There are several other food proteins, such as casein in dairy, that have a similar molecular structure to gluten. Because of this molecular mimicry, when you eat dairy your body can get confused and think you just ate a bowl of pasta and trigger an immune reaction.

 

How to Heal the Damage Caused by Gluten

If you have an autoimmune disease or are anywhere on the autoimmune spectrum, the single best thing you can do for your health is to ditch the gluten 100% as soon as possible. If you don’t, the gluten will keep your tight junctions open and your gut leaky, your body may mistake your own tissues for gluten by way of molecular memory, and your body will remain in a chronic state of inflammation. In addition to eliminating gluten, I recommend using the proven 4R approach to heal your leaky gut. These two steps combined will give your immune system the break it needs to stop your body’s attack on itself.

In fact, healing your gut and removing gluten from your diet are two of the most impactful changes you can make in reversing your autoimmune disease, and they are the first two pillars of The Myers Way®. You can read about all four of The Myers Way® Pillars for preventing and reversing autoimmune disease in my book, The Autoimmune Solution.

If you want to learn even more about how gluten affects the body, how to test for gluten sensitivity, and tips for following a gluten-free diet, you can take my Guide to Gluten eCourse. This self-paced course features videos, checklists, shopping guides, and worksheets that can be completed from the comfort of your own home.

Written by Amy Myers

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Gut microbes trigger autoimmune disease.

Gut microbes trigger autoimmune disease later in life in mice

Public Release: 19-Jan-2015HEIDELBERG, 19 January 2015 – Researchers have revealed that the colonization of the gut of young mice by certain types of bacteria can lead to immune responses later in life that are linked to disease. Increases in the levels of segmented filamentous bacteria can trigger changes in the lymphoid tissue of the mouse gut that result in the production of antibodies that attack components of the cell nucleus. This type of damage is a hallmark of autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus and systemic sclerosis where organs throughout the body are damaged by wayward immune responses. The findings are published in The EMBO Journal.

“Our results demonstrate how gut health in young animals may be linked to autoimmune disease in older animals,” says Dirk Elewaut, Professor at Ghent University Hospital in Belgium and VIB Inflammation Research Center, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium who is one of the lead authors of the study. “The microbiome of the young mouse impacts a loss of tolerance of the secondary immune system against proteins in the nucleus of the cell. The attack of certain proteins by the body’s own immune system can subsequently lead to tissue damage and disease.”

The researchers used mice in which secondary lymphoid organs were lacking for their studies. Secondary lymphoid organs include lymph nodes, tonsils, spleen and other structures where lymphocytes, the white blood cells that play essential roles in the body’s immune system, are activated. The mice were produced by interfering with lymphotoxin and Hox11, two essential proteins involved in the autoimmune response of animals. The scientists showed that approximately one quarter of mice modified in this way spontaneously developed antibodies that would attack components of the cell nucleus. This increase in undesired, self-inflicted immune reactions was influenced by the presence of segmented filamentous bacteria in the gut of younger mice. Segmented filamentous bacteria are clostridia-related microorganisms found in the gut of many animals including mice, rats and humans.

“We have demonstrated a link between the microbiome of young mice and the later onset of autoimmune disease,” says Elewaut. “Further work is needed to establish the precise molecular mechanisms that leads to the onset of diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus and systemic sclerosis in humans but we now have a new path of enquiry that we can pursue and look for potential interventions.”
###

Commensal microbiota influence systemic autoimmune responses

Jens T. Van Praet, Erin Donovan, Inge Vanassche, Michael B. Drennan, Fien Windels, Amélie Dendooven, Liesbeth Allais, Claude A. Cuvelier, Fons van de Loo, Paula S. Norris, Andrey A. Kuglov, Sergei A. Nedospasov, Sylvie Rabot, Raul Tito, Jeroen Raes, Valerie Gaboriau-Routhiau,Nadine Cerf-Bensussan, Tom Van de Wiele, Gérard Eberl, Carl F. Ware and Dirk Elewaut

Read the paper:

The paper will be available at 12:00 noon on Monday 19th January

doi: 10.15252/embj.201489966

http://dx.​doi.​org/​10.​15252/​embj.​201489966

If you would like to receive a PDF of the paper during the embargo period please send an email to barry.whyte@embo.org

Further information on The EMBO Journal is available at emboj.embopress.org

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What is Autoimmune Disease!

The Immune System

Your immune system is the network of cells and tissues throughout your body that work together to defend you from invasion and infection. You can think of it as having two parts: the acquired and the innate immune systems.

The acquired (or adaptive) immune system develops as a person grows. It “remembers” invaders so that it can fight them if they come back. When the immune system is working properly, foreign invaders provoke the body to activate immune cells against the invaders and to produce proteins called antibodies that attach to the invaders so that they can be recognized and destroyed. The more primitive innate (or inborn) immune system activates white blood cells to destroy invaders, without using antibodies.

Autoimmune diseases refer to problems with the acquired immune system’s reactions. In an autoimmune reaction, antibodies and immune cells target the body’s own healthy tissues by mistake, signaling the body to attack them.

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases can affect almost any part of the body, including the heart, brain, nerves, muscles, skin, eyes, joints, lungs, kidneys, glands, the digestive tract, and blood vessels.

The classic sign of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, which can cause redness, heat, pain, and swelling. How an autoimmune disease affects you depends on what part of the body is targeted. If the disease affects the joints, as in rheumatoid arthritis, you might have joint pain, stiffness, and loss of function. If it affects the thyroid, as in Graves’ disease and thyroiditis, it might cause tiredness, weight gain, and muscle aches. If it attacks the skin, as it does in scleroderma/systemic sclerosis, vitiligo, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), it can cause rashes, blisters, and color changes.

Many autoimmune diseases don’t restrict themselves to one part of the body. For example, SLE can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, nerves, blood vessels, and more. Type 1 diabetes can affect your glands, eyes, kidneys, muscles, and more.

No one is sure what causes autoimmune diseases. In most cases, a combination of factors is probably at work. For example, you might have a genetic tendency to develop a disease and then, under the right conditions, an outside invader like a virus might trigger it.

The list of diseases that fall into the autoimmune category includes

  • alopecia areata
  • autoimmune hemolytic anemia
  • autoimmune hepatitis
  • dermatomyositis
  • diabetes (type 1)
  • some forms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • glomerulonephritis
  • Graves’ disease
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
  • myasthenia gravis
  • some forms of myocarditis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • pemphigus/pemphigoid
  • pernicious anemia
  • polyarteritis nodosa
  • polymyositis
  • primary biliary cirrhosis
  • psoriasis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • scleroderma/systemic sclerosis
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • some forms of thyroiditis
  • some forms of uveitis
  • vitiligo
  • granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener’s)

 

The treatment depends on the disease, but in most cases one important goal is to reduce inflammation. Sometimes doctors prescribe corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs.

Progress and Promise

Further research should continue to enhance the understanding of the genetics and causes of autoimmune disorders and result in improvements in diagnosing and treating these diseases. For information on autoimmune disease research that is supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, visit www.niams.nih.gov/Research/default.asp. For a listing of federally and privately supported clinical trials for a variety of autoimmune disorders, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.

Key Words

Acquired immune system. The part of the immune system that develops as a person grows. It employs antibodies and immune cells to fight harmful substances.

Antibody. A special protein produced by the body’s immune system that recognizes and helps fight infectious agents and other foreign substances that invade the body.

Antigen. A foreign substance that triggers the production of antibodies when it is introduced into the body.

Autoimmune disease. A disease that results when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues.

Corticosteroids. Potent anti-inflammatory hormones that are made naturally in the body or synthetically (man-made) for use as drugs. They are also called glucocorticoids. The most commonly prescribed drug of this type is prednisone.

Diabetes, type 1. A condition in which the immune system destroys insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, making it impossible for the body to use glucose (blood sugar) for energy. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children and young adults.

Graves’ disease. An autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormone. This causes such symptoms as nervousness, heat intolerance, heart palpitations, and unexplained weight loss.

Immune system. A complex network of specialized cells and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses.

Immunosuppressive drugs. Drugs that suppress the immune response and can be used to treat autoimmune disease. Unfortunately, because these drugs also suppress normal immunity, they leave the body at risk for infection.

Inflammation. A reaction of body tissues to injury or disease, typically marked by five signs: swelling, redness, heat, pain, and loss of function.

Innate immune system. The part of the immune system that is more primitive. It employs types of white blood cells called granulocytes and monocytes to destroy harmful substances.

Psoriatic arthritis. A type of arthritis associated with psoriasis, a chronic skin disease that occurs when cells in the outer layer of the skin reproduce faster than normal.

Rheumatoid arthritis. A disease in which the immune system attacks the linings of the joints. This results in joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and destruction.

Scleroderma/systemic sclerosis. An autoimmune disease characterized by abnormal growth of connective tissue in the skin and blood vessels. In more severe forms, connective tissue can build up in the kidneys, lungs, heart, and gastrointestinal tract, leading in some cases to organ failure.

Systemic lupus erythematosus. An autoimmune disease affecting primarily young women. Many parts of the body can be affected, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain.

Thyroiditis. An inflammation of the thyroid gland that causes the gland to become underactive. This results in symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, weight gain, cold intolerance, and muscle aches.

Vitiligo. A disorder in which the immune system destroys pigment-making cells called melanocytes. This results in white patches of skin on different parts of the body.

# # #

The mission of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health (NIH), is to support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases; the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research; and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. The NIAMS information clearinghouse is a public service sponsored by the NIAMS that provides health information and information sources. Additional information can be found on the NIAMS website at www.niams.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)—The Nation’s Medical Research Agency— includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

For Your Information

This publication contains information about medications used to treat the health condition discussed here. When this publication was developed, we included the most up-to-date (accurate) information available. Occasionally, new information on medication is released.

For updates and for any questions about any medications you are taking, please contact

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Toll Free: 888-INFO-FDA (888-463-6332)
Website: http://www.fda.gov

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Womens immune system genes operate differently from men’s

Women’s immune system genes operate differently from men’s

A new technology reveals that immune system genes switch on and off differently in women and men, and the source of that variation is not primarily in the DNA.

Jul 29 2015

Howard Chang

Howard Chang and his colleagues have developed a technology that enables to sample living cells in real time to better understand how they operate.
Steve Fisch

A new technology for studying the human body’s vast system for toggling genes on and off reveals that genes associated with the immune system toggle more frequently, and those same genes operate differently in women and men.

Some genes are virtually always on, like the clock light on a microwave; others sit unused for years at a time, like some regrettable appliance you bought, stuffed into the back of the closet and forgot. Some genes can be always on in one person and always off in another. A minority of genes switch on and off, like a favorite cell phone app. A new technology, which makes it possible to study the molecules that regulate all of that switching in living people as they go about their lives, has revealed some intriguing surprises, according to a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

One of those discoveries is that the genes that switch on and off differently from person to person are more likely to be associated with autoimmune diseases. Another is that women and men use different switches to turn on many immune system genes. It’s too soon to be sure, but that difference in activity might explain the much higher incidence in women of autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

“Part of why this is possible is a new technology that was invented at Stanford for measuring the accessibility of the genome to regulatory elements,” explained the study’s senior author Howard Chang, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology.

The new technique, called ATAC-seq and developed by Chang’s team, lets researchers sample living cells in real time to see what they are up to. “In the past,” he said, “people needed a huge number of cells to do this kind of measurement. You’d actually need a pound of flesh to get certain rare cell types. So you can’t get that out of a live person — and certainly not more than once, right?”

Examining the source

Researchers coped by growing cells in the lab, so they had enough cells to study. “But now,” continued Chang, “you are studying copies of copies; you aren’t studying the original cells anymore. Those months of being grown in the lab completely changes how the cells are behaving and so you are no longer looking at the personal. How the laboratory cells behave has nothing to do with what the person just ate, whether they had a fight with their girlfriend or whether they had an infection,” said Chang. With lab-grown cells, the cells haven’t experienced any of those things, all of which can alter the regulation of individual genes.

The new study, published July 29 in the new journal Cell Systems, took ordinary blood samples from 12 healthy volunteers to measure how certain genes are switched on and off, and how that measure varied from individual to individual. Chang’s team also looked at how much change occurred at different times in the same volunteers. The researchers looked exclusively at specialized immune cells called T cells, which are easy to isolate from a standard blood test, easy for volunteers supply and an important component of the immune system.

The single greatest predictor for genes’ tendency to turn on and off was the sex of the person.

One goal of the study was to establish a baseline measure of how much this gene-switching activity varies among healthy people. That way, when other researchers make similar measures in people who are ill, they’ll have an idea of what is normal. Another goal was to refine the new technique for measuring gene activity in standard blood samples.

“We were interested in exploring the landscape of gene regulation directly from live people and look at differences,” said Chang. “We asked, ‘How different or similar are people?’ This is different from asking if they have the same genes.” Even in identical twins, he said, one twin could have an autoimmune disease and the other could be perfectly well. And, indeed, the team reported that over a third of the variation in gene activity was not connected to a genetic difference, suggesting a strong role for the environment. “I would say the majority of the difference is likely from a nongenetic source,” he said.

The sex factor

Across the 12 healthy volunteers, 7 percent of the genes were switched on in different patterns from person to person. For each person, these patterns persisted over time, like a unique fingerprint. “But the single greatest predictor for genes’ tendency to turn on and off was the sex of the person. In terms of significance,” said Chang, “sex was far more important than all the other things we looked at, perhaps even combined.” When the team measured gene activity levels from 30 of the top 500 genes the researchers expected would show gender-influenced activity, they found that 20 of the 30 genes showed significant differential activity between men and women.

Chang directs the Center for Personal Dynamic Regulomes at Stanford University, which aims to map the “regulome” — the complete set of all the switches that turn genes on and off in real time.

Other Stanford-affiliated authors of the paper are Kun Qu, PhD, senior research associate; Lisa Zaba, MD, PhD, instructor of dermatology; Paul Giresi, PhD, former postdoctoral scholar; Rui Li, life science research assistant; Michelle Longmire, MD, clinical instructor of dermatology; Youn Kim, MD, the Joanne and Peter Haas Jr., Professor for Cutaneous Lymphoma Research; and William Greenleaf, PhD, assistant professor of genetics.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants P50HG007735 and U19AI110491), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Stanford Cancer Center, the Scleroderma Research Foundation and the Haas Family Foundation.

Information about Stanford’s Department of Genetics, which also supported the work, is available at http://genetics.stanford.edu.



Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions – Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at http://mednews.stanford.edu.

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Happy Friday !!!!!

After reading the past articles, I feel like I have everything the New Jersey Functional Neurology Center helps patients with.    I had no idea nor has any Dr in Reno, CA, Salt Lake City mentioned this center is available.  It’s amazing to me how ego’s set in and If they can’t cure you no one can.  I have not been to the Center but after reading the web page, and having a few short e mails with the DR, I feel like there is hope for all of us out there.  Dr Scopelliti  offers hope for all different area’s and I feel lucky to have found him.  Now he is stuck with me!   You can sign up for e mails at the bottom of the article, but I also will be sharing his information he has offered to help others out there  living the world of Invisible Illness’s.

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Have a wonderful Friday !!!!

Kelly

The intent of this site is to help others through sharing information.  Kelly Helsel does not endorse or intend to mislead any readers as to the content of any articles or books on this site.

 

 

 

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