autoimmune disease

A disease in which the body produces an immunogenic (i.e., immune system) response to some constituent of its own tissue. In other words the immune system loses its ability to recognize some tissue or system within the body as "self" and targets and attacks it as if it were foreign. Autoimmune diseases can be classified into those in which predominantly one organ is affected (e.g., hemolytic anemia and anti-immune thyroiditis), and those in which the autoimmune disease process is diffused through many tissues (e.g., systemic lupus erythematosus). For example, multiple sclerosis is thought to be caused by T cells attacking the sheaths that surround the nerve fibers of the brain and spinal cord. This results in loss of coordination, weakness, and blurred vision.
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