Autoimmune diseases (ADs) represent a heterogeneous group of disorders that affect specific target organs or multiple organ systems. These conditions share common immunopathogenic mechanisms (i.e., the autoimmune tautology), which explain the clinical similarities they have among them as well as their familial clustering (i.e., coaggregation). As part of the autoimmune tautology, the influence of environmental exposure on the risk of developing ADs is paramount (i.e., the autoimmune ecology). In fact, environment, more than genetics, shapes immune system. Autoimmune ecology is akin to exposome, that is all the exposures - internal and external - across the lifespan, interacting with hereditary factors (both genetics and epigenetics) to favor or protect against autoimmunity and its outcomes. Herein, we provide an overview of the autoimmune ecology, focusing on the immune response to environmental agents in general, and microbiota, cigarette smoking, alcohol and coffee consumption, socioeconomic status (SES), gender and sex hormones, vitamin D, organic solvents, and vaccines in particular. Inclusion of the autoimmune ecology in disease etiology and health will improve the way personalized medicine is currently conceived and applied.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy