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June 1997

Endogenous Retroviral Sequences in the Pathogenesis of Systemic Autoimmune Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, Ludwig-Maximilians-universität München, Munich, Germany (Drs Walchner, Messer, Germaier, Plewig, and Kind); III Medical Clinic, Klinikum Mannheim der Universität Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany (Dr Leib-Mösch); and GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Molecular Virology, Neuherberg, Germany (Drs Leib-Mösch and Germaier).

Arch Dermatol. 1997;133(6):767-771. doi:10.1001/archderm.1997.03890420109015

Objectives:  To update information on endogenous retroviral sequences and discuss their role in systemic autoimmune disease.

Data Sources:  Articles retrieved after MEDLINE search and personal communications and cooperation with the Institute of Virology.

Data Synthesis:  There are 2 modes of pathogenetic mechanisms through which endogenous retroviral sequences could cause systemic autoimmune disease: expression of endogenous retroviral gene products sharing antigenic determinants with cellular proteins; and activation or destruction of cellular genes as a consequence of insertional mutagenesis. Both mechanisms have been demonstrated in vitro and in vivo in animal models.

Conclusion:  Investigations on endogenous retroviral sequences in humans may offer new insights into the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease.Arch Dermatol. 1997;133:767-771