Requirements for innate immune pathways in environmentally induced autoimmunity
1 Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
2 Department of Immunology and Microbial Science, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, 92037, USA
BMC Medicine 2013, 11:100 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-100Published: 4 April 2013
There is substantial evidence that environmental triggers in combination with genetic and stochastic factors play an important role in spontaneous autoimmune disease. Although the specific environmental agents and how they promote autoimmunity remain largely unknown, in part because of diverse etiologies, environmentally induced autoimmune models can provide insights into potential mechanisms. Studies of idiopathic and environmentally induced systemic autoimmunity show that they are mediated by common adaptive immune response genes. By contrast, although the innate immune system is indispensable for autoimmunity, there are clear differences in the molecular and cellular innate components that mediate specific systemic autoimmune diseases, suggesting distinct autoimmune-promoting pathways. Some of these differences may be related to the bifurcation of toll-like receptor signaling that distinguishes interferon regulatory factor 7-mediated type I interferon production from nuclear factor-κB-driven proinflammatory cytokine expression. Accordingly, idiopathic and pristane-induced systemic autoimmunity require both type I interferon and proinflammatory cytokines whereas the less aggressive mercury-induced autoimmunity, although dependent on nucleic acid-binding toll-like receptors, does not require type I interferon but needs proinflammatory cytokines. Scavenger receptors and the inflammasome may contribute to silica-induced autoimmunity. Greater understanding of the innate mechanisms responsible for idiopathic and environmentally induced autoimmunity should yield new information into the processes that instigate and drive systemic autoimmunity.