All about autoimmune diseases from A to Z
Autoimmune diseases are a strange phenomenon, and by now around 50 million of Americans are estimated to be affected. But what are autoimmune disorders? Why are so many people sugering from them? And what happens in the body when an autoimmune ailment is present?
What are autoimmune disorders?
I will define for you what an autoimmune disease is and what happens in the body. A few technical terms will fall. I will also try my best to explain these in more detail in the course of the next few lines.
An ailment that affects the autoimmune system is a chronic misregulation of the immune system. Immune cells mistakenly attack the body’s own healthy cells. The affected tissue gets massively damaged and partially completely destroyed.
This is an autoimmune disease. Now I’m going to step back a little bit and explain the whole process to you in a more vivid way.
What does the immune system do?
The immune system is your body’s own command against enemies. Nature is a constant struggle –to eat or to be eaten.
In the figurative sense, living individuals can be eaten not only by the saber-toothed tiger but also by small microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, molds), toxins and parasites (e.g. tapeworms).
As soon as an enemy or foreign particles enters or threatens to penetrate your body, this alerts the immune system.
In the course of an immune process, the enemy is identified, fought, destroyed, and so-called memory cells memorize the enemy’s signature in order to be even better prepared for a future invasion.
Different immune cells have different tasks to ensure that this process runs smoothly.
Which cells are in the immune system? An overview
All immune cells belong to the white blood cells (leukocytes). You have certainly heard that there are various blood cells in the blood. In simple terms, these are the red blood cells (erythrocytes, for oxygen transport), the platelets (for blood clotting in the event of injury) and the white blood cells, the leukocytes (the immune defense/police).
We can distinguish white blood cells purely visually clearly from the other blood cells.
There are many different species of Leukocytes, all have unique tasks. It is important for you that leukocytes regulate the immune system. If you would like to know more about this, here is an explanation.
There is the innate immune system and the acquired immune system
The innate immune system is always there, from birth and not very changeable. These are your Berserker cells. The feeding cells.
You may have heard of macrophages, monocytes, dendrite cells and granulocytes. They all detect foreign substances or intruders, shell them with toxic chemicals and eat them.
The acquired immune system is changeable, not as fast as the innate immune system, but incredibly important for the survival of humanity.
Because microorganisms, viruses and bacteria in particular, are constantly changing and are constantly trying to develop new mechanisms to infect and destroy our bodies.
The acquired immune system must adapt quickly to these new pathogens, as the innate immune system cannot.
There are cells that produce antibodies and those that detect antibodies.
What are the antibodies?
Immune cells recognize an enemy from cell membrane components such as fatty acids (innate immune system) or certain proteins (acquired immune system).
For example, a virus has a very specific protein on its surface. This protein is unique to this virus. The acquired immune system then produces antibodies against this protein.
Antibodies are immune system defense proteins that bind specifically to a certain protein from a specific pathogen.
The formation and development of antibodies alone is a miracle in itself, as they can theoretically detect 100 million different foreign substances/disease pathogens.
How does the formation of antibodies work?
A feeding cell detects a foreign particle, kills and consumes it. It only partially digests the enemy, because specific surficial proteins of the enemy are immediately brought to the surface of the feeding cell and shown to other immune cells in the so-called MHC protein complex.
The B cells (antibody cells) detect this surface protein on the feeding cell and produce antibodies against it. Thus, the innate is in constant contact with the acquired immune system.
With the help of antibodies, the immune system can always adapt to new challenges.
But what is the link to autoimmune diseases now? The autoantibodies play a role in this.
What are AAK? Auto-antibody explained simply
In autoimmune diseases, the problem is that the immune system not only tackles non-body particles and invaders but also recognizes the body’s own cells as an enemy due to various causes.
Immune cells, for example, recognize a surface protein on thyroid cells as an enemy. The thyroid gland then becomes the enemy.
To fight this “enemy”, the B cells produce antibodies against it. These are the auto-antibodies: antibodies directed against the body’s own cells. Thus, calamity takes its course.
The auto-antibodies of the B cells bind to the cells of the thyroid gland, the feeding cells recognize them, attack and damage the thyroid gland. This is how Hashimoto thyroiditis or Basedow’s disease develops. Auto-antibodies play a central role.
In summary – The autoimmune process
Let’s summarize the autoimmune process:
1- For various reasons, B cells create auto-antibodies directed against the body’s own cells. Or auto-reactive T cells form.
2- The auto-antibodies bind to these body’s own cells and alert feeding cells and cytotoxic T cells.
3- The feeding cells and cytotoxic T-cells cause massive local inflammation in the tissue, attack and damage the respective organ.
4- The affected organ suffers massive damage and can only perform its function to a limited extent or no longer at all.
5- If no intervening occurs, the respective organ will continue to suffer until it ceases to function. At the latest, the autoimmune process becomes life-threatening and can spread to other organs.
Now you’ve learned a lot about autoimmune diseases. You should know that this process is very unnatural. It is virtually unknown to innate peoples who live a natural lifestyle.
Autoimmune disorders are a phenomenon of Western society and are now so widespread that the medical system knows no other way out than to suppress the symptoms.
But what are the symptoms of autoimmune diseases? This and much more you will learn in our following article.
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