Mechanisms of Autoimmunity and Pharmacologic Treatments

Document Type

Book Chapter


Rheumatoid arthritis; Hashimoto's thyroiditis; Grave's diseas; Myasthenia gravis; CD20; TNF; Multiple sclerosis; Lupus; Immunomodulatory; Anti-inflammatory

Identifier Data




Publication Source

Pharmacology of Immunotherapeutic Drugs


Autoimmune disease is thought to affect more than 5% of the world’s population, and thus represents a significant healthcare burden. Autoimmunity results from an inappropriate immune response to self-antigens (also called autoantigens), which results in inflammation and subsequent tissue damage. Depending on the autoantigen targeted, tissue damage from this destructive attack by the immune system can be organ-specific or systemic in nature. Causative mechanisms tipping the scales toward immune attack against self include a combination of genetic and environmental factors, as well as a failure of immune regulation. The mechanisms of several autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus are discussed here. Additionally, immune system drug targets are also described as treatments for these autoimmune disorders in which immunosuppression is warranted. Many of these drugs are immunomodulatory in nature, suppress one or several pro-inflammatory cytokines, or suppress specific T or B cell activation mechanisms.