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September 9, 1961


JAMA. 1961;177(10):704. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040360040010

Horror autotoxicus was the expression Ehrlich coined many years ago to characterize the presumed failure of the body to react, with antibody formation, to the antigenic stimulus of its own tissues. Yet more than 50 years ago Widal, Chauffard, and their associates noted autohemolysins in the blood in acquired hemolytic anemia, a finding rediscovered by Dameshek and Schwartz in 1938.1 In recent years, patients with acute viral infections and systemic lupus erythematosus have revealed high levels of complement-fixing substances against human tissue in their sera. The relationship between such apparently diverse illnesses and the antibodies in the sera has not been entirely clear.

Latterly, Muschel and associates2 reported that normal subjects may have antibodies in their sera which, in in vitro experiments, fix complement in the presence of a variety of normal animal and human tissues. These antibodies are found generally in lower titer in normal humans. Most

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