Autoimmune diseases are defined when the progression from benign autoimmunity to pathogenic autoimmunity occurs. This progression is determined by both genetic influences and environmental triggers. The concept of autoimmunity as the actual cause of human illness (rather than a consequence or harmless accompaniment) can be used to establish criteria that define a disease as an autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune diseases have a wide variety of different effects and tend to have one of three characteristic pathological effects:
- Damage to or destruction of tissue
- Altered organ growth
- Altered organ function
(“Autoimmune disorders: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia". www.nlm.nih.gov)
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