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Developmental Immunology
Volume 9, Issue 3, Pages 161-167

Allergic Disease and Autoimmune Effectors Pathways

1Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Ha'Emek Medical Center, Afula 18101, Israel
2Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, TB 192 One Shields Avenue, University of California at Davis, Davis 95616, CA, USA
3Department of Medicine “B” and Center for Autoimmune Diseases, Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer 52621, Israel

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Allergy and autoimmunity result from dysregulation of the immune system. Until recently, it was generally accepted that the mechanisms that govern these disease processes are quite disparate; however, new discoveries suggest possible common pathogenetic effector pathways. This review illustrates the concomitant presentation of these conditions and the potential relationship or common mechanism in some cases, by looking at the key elements that regulate the immune response in both allergic and autoimmunite conditions: mast cells, antibodies, T cells, cytokines, and genetic determinants. The parallel appearance of allergic and autoimmune conditions in the some patients may reveal that such aberrations of the immune system have a common pathophysiologic mechanism. Mast cells, which play a key role in allergic reactions, and the wealth of inflammatory mediators they express, make it likely that they have profound effects on many autoimmune processes. Activation of protein kinases by inflammatory cytokines and environmental stresses may contribute to both allergic and autoimmune diseases. The presence of autoantibodies in some allergic conditions suggests an autoimmune basis for these conditions. Because of the central role T cells play in immune reactivity, the T-cell receptor (TCR) loci have long been considered important candidates for common disease susceptibility within the immune system such as asthma, atopy, and autoimmunity. Immunomodulation is the key to a successful treatment of allergic and autoimmune conditions.