Autoantigens as Partners in Initiation and Propagation of Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Systemic autoimmune diseases are characterized by specific targeting of a limited group of ubiquitously expressed autoantigens by the immune system. This review examines the mechanisms underlying their selection as immune targets. Initiation of autoimmune responses likely reflects the presentation of antigens with a distinct structure not previously encountered by the immune system, in a proimmune context (injury, malignancy, or infection). Causes of modified structure include somatic mutation and posttranslational modifications (including citrullination and proteolysis). Many autoantigens are components of multimolecular complexes, and some of the other components may provide adjuvant activity. Propagation of autoimmune responses appears to reflect a bidirectional interaction between the immune response and the target tissues in a mutually reinforcing cycle: Immune effector pathways generate additional autoantigen, which feeds further immune response. We propose that this resonance may be a critical principle underlying disease propagation, with specific autoantigens functioning as the hubs around which amplification occurs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-420
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual review of immunology
StatePublished - May 20 2016


  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunodominance
  • Modified structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Autoantigens as Partners in Initiation and Propagation of Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this