autoimmune disease

noun Pathology.
a disease resulting from a disordered immune reaction in which antibodies are produced against one's own tissues, as systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Origin:
1960–65

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

autoimmune disease n.
A disease resulting from an immune reaction produced by an individual's white blood cells or antibodies acting on the body's own tissues or extracellular proteins.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
autoimmune disease   (ô'tō-ĭ-myn')  Pronunciation Key 
A disease in which impaired function and the destruction of tissue are caused by an immune reaction in which abnormal antibodies are produced and attack the body's own cells and tissues. autoimmune diseases include a wide variety of disorders, including many disorders of connective tissue, such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Our Living Language  : A wide variety of disorders are classified as autoimmune diseases, ranging from systemic lupus erythematosus to type I diabetes, and many other disorders are suspected of having an autoimmune component. Autoimmune diseases can thus affect a wide variety of bodily tissues and processes, such as the skin, liver, kidneys, or other organs, or the chemical reactions essential to metabolism. Each disease has a characteristic set of autoantibodies (antibodies that attack normal cells or structures in the body itself). In some of these diseases, the autoantibodies that are produced actually cause the tissue and organ damage. In other cases, the antibodies are considered to be characteristic markers of the disease but do not cause disease themselves. It is thought that the autoantibodies are generated by an immunologic reaction with bodily proteins, but the reasons that a specific set of bodily proteins should provoke an immune response that results in disease remain obscure. The genetic makeup of the individual, environmental influences, and infectious disease organisms may all contribute to a person's susceptibility to autoimmune disease. For reasons that are not clear, the prevalence of many autoimmune diseases is much higher in women than in men. Recently there have been dramatic improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune disorders. New tests for diagnostically important autoantibodies have been discovered. Corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation, and anticancer drugs that kill rapidly dividing cells are used to deplete activated cells in the immune system. The most promising new drugs consist of genetically engineered monoclonal antibodies that block just one part of the immune system. By selectively shutting down the part of the immune system involved in the autoimmune response, the drugs allow some people to see dramatic improvement in their symptoms with minimal side effects.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

autoimmune disease definition


A disease in which the body produces antibodies that attack its own tissues, leading to the deterioration and in some cases to the destruction of such tissue.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
They have also proved useful for treating autoimmune disease and are under
  investigation as a treatment for many other conditions.
Connect the rise of chemical use with the epidemics in autoimmune disease, and
  you already have a smoking gun.
Symptoms of an autoimmune disease vary based on the disease and location of the
  abnormal immune response.
Uveitis is chronic inflammation in the eye, which is often caused by an
  autoimmune disease or response.
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