Parasitic infection and autoimmunity

Lupus. 2009 Nov;18(13):1144-8. doi: 10.1177/0961203309345735.


Systemic lupus erythematosus is the prototypic multi-system autoimmune disease characterized by the production of multiple autoantibodies. The development of disease depends on a genetic predisposition and exposure to environmental factors including UV light, drugs, and infections. The association of parasitic infection and the development of autoimmune disease in general and lupus in particular remains elusive. In this paper, we review the recent evidence for protection from autoimmunity by parasites, models of parasite-related autoimmunity, molecular mimicry, the impact of parasitic molecules on the immune response and the association between parasitic load and the degree of autoimmunity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Environment
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Helminths / immunology
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Parasitic Diseases / immunology*