Autoantibodies and their significance.
In systemic lupus erythematosus, autoantibodies have structural features that indicate in vivo selection by a T cell-dependent, antigen-driven process. The B-cell component of these responses resembles a conventional antibody response, whereas the T-cell component may involve diverse stimulatory mechanisms and levels of regulatory control. Characterizing T-cell epitopes of autoantigens has been difficult because these molecules are ubiquitous and exist inside the cells as multicomponent, macromolecular complexes. Autoantibodies can mediate disease manifestations by various mechanisms, with variable region structures determining the pattern and severity of tissue injury.
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