Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been extensively studied in the induction of inflammation and tissue damage, especially as it relates to aging. In more recent years, ROS have been implicated in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. Here, ROS accumulation leads to apoptosis and autoantigen structural changes that result in novel specificities. ROS have been implicated not only in the initiation of the autoimmune response but also in its amplification and spreading to novel epitopes, through the unmasking of cryptic determinants. This review will examine the contribution of ROS to the pathogenesis of four organ specific autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto thyroiditis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, and vitiligo), and compare it to that of a better characterized systemic autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis). It will also discuss tobacco smoking as an environmental factor endowed with both pro-oxidant and anti-oxidant properties, thus capable of differentially modulating the autoimmune response.
- Hashimoto thyroiditis
- Monoamine oxidase (MAO)
- Oxidative stress
- Reactive oxygen species (ROS)
ASJC Scopus subject areas