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November 27, 1987

The Autoimmune Diseases

JAMA. 1987;258(20):2920-2929. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400200126015

ALTHOUGH this chapter is entitled "The Autoimmune Diseases," one can see that the diseases in which autoimmune phenomena contribute to pathogenesis are spread throughout this Primer. Since the earliest descriptions of the immune system, the ability of an individual to react to a wide variety of foreign insults, such as microorganisms and parasites, and internal changes, such as cancer cells, while not responding to one's own self, has intrigued researchers and is now attracting the attention of the clinician. Clinicians are interested because they encounter an increasing number of diseases and a wide range of clinical situations in which autoimmune phenomena apparently contribute to the symptoms. Clinical interest has been stimulated further by the therapeutic interventions that are now available or will be available in the near future to restore the function of the immune system to its major role in the prevention rather than production of disease.

As early