Autoimmune Encephalitis: Treatment and Expected Outcomes video

Many cases of encephalitis are caused by an autoimmune disorder which may or may not be triggered by an infection. 
Here is a short informative video from the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance.  It is presented by Dr. Heather Van Mater who is a pediatric Rheumatologist.

What is meningitis? What is encephalitis? 
Infections, and less commonly other causes, in the brain and spinal cord can cause dangerous inflammation. This inflammation can produce a wide range of symptoms, including fever, headache, seizures, change in behavior or confusion and, in extreme cases, can cause brain damage, stroke, or even death. Infection of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord, is called meningitis. Inflammation of the brain itself is called encephalitis. Myelitis refers to inflammation of the spinal cord. When both the brain and the spinal cord are involved, the condition is called encephalomyelitis. What causes meningitis and encephalitis? Infectious causes of meningitis and encephalitis include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Many of these affect healthy people. For others, environmental and exposure history, recent travel or immunocompromised state (such as HIV, diabetes, steroids, chemotherapy) are important elements. There are also non-infectious causes such as autoimmune causes and medications.

Encephalitis can be caused by infections. However, up to 60 percent of cases remain undiagnosed, so this is an active area of research. Several thousand cases of encephalitis are reported each year, but many more may actually occur since the symptoms may be mild to non-existent in most patients.
Most diagnosed cases of encephalitis in the United States are caused by enteroviruses, herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, rabies virus (this can occur even without a known animal bite, such as for example due to exposure to bats), or arboviruses such as West Nile virus, which are transmitted from infected animals to humans through the bite of an infected tick, mosquito, or other blood-sucking insect. Lyme disease, a bacterial infection spread by tick bite, more typically causes meningitis, and rarely encephalitis.
Herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE) is responsible for about 10 percent of all encephalitis cases, with a frequency of about 2 cases per million persons per year. More than half of untreated cases are fatal. About 30 percent of cases result from the initial infection with the herpes simplex virus; the majority of cases are caused by reactivation of an earlier infection. Most people acquire herpes simplex type 1 (the cause of cold sores or fever blisters) in childhood so it is a ubiquitous exposure.
HSE due to herpes simplex virus type 1 can affect any age group but is most often seen in persons under age 20 or over age 40. This rapidly progressing disease is the single most important cause of fatal sporadic encephalitis in the U.S. Symptoms can include headache and fever for up to 5 days, followed by personality and behavioral changes, seizures, hallucinations, and altered levels of consciousness. Brain damage in adults and in children beyond the neonatal period is usually seen in the frontal (leading to behavioral and personality changes) and temporal lobes (leading to memory and speech problems) and can be severe.
Type 2 virus (genital herpes) is most often transmitted through sexual contact. Many people do not know they are infected and may not have active genital lesions. An infected mother can transmit the disease to her child at birth, and through contact with genital secretions. In newborns, symptoms such as lethargy, irritability, tremors, seizures, and poor feeding generally develop between 4 and 11 days after delivery.
Powassan encephalitis is the only well-documented tick-borne arbovirus in the United States and Canada. Symptoms are noticed 7-10 days following the bite (most people do not notice tick bites) and may include headache, fever, nausea, confusion, partial paralysis,coma, and seizures.
Four common forms of mosquito-transmitted viral encephalitis are seen in the United States:
  • Equine encephalitis affects horses and humans. Eastern equine encephalitis also infects birds that live in freshwater swamps of the eastern U.S. seaboard and along the Gulf Coast. In humans, symptoms are seen 4-10 days following transmission and include sudden fever, general flu-like muscle pains, and headache of increasing severity, followed by coma and death in severe cases. About half of infected patients die from the disorder. Fewer than 10 human cases are seen annually in the United States. Western equine encephalitis is seen in farming areas in the western and central plains states. Symptoms begin 5-10 days following infection. Children, particularly those under 12 months of age, are affected more severely than adults and may have permanent neurologic damage. Death occurs in about 3 percent of cases. Venezuelan equine encephalitis is very rare in this country. Children are at greatest risk of developing severe complications, while adults generally develop flu-like symptoms. Epidemics in South and Central America have killed thousands of persons and left others with permanent, severe neurologic damage.
  • LaCrosse encephalitis occurs most often in the upper midwestern states (Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, and Iowa) but also has been reported in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the country. Most cases are seen in children under age 16. Symptoms such as vomiting, headache, fever, and lethargy appear 5-10 days following infection. Severe complications include seizure, coma, and permanent neurologic damage. About 100 cases of LaCrosse encephalitis are reported each year.
  • St. Louis encephalitis is most prevalent in temperate regions of the United States but can occur throughout most of the country. The disease is generally milder in children than in adults, with elderly adults at highest risk of severe disease or death. Symptoms typically appear 7-10 days following infection and include headache and fever. In more severe cases, confusion and disorientation, tremors, convulsions (especially in the very young), and coma may occur.
  • West Nile encephalitis was first clinically diagnosed in the United States in 1999; 284 people are known to have died of the virus the following year. There were 9,862 reported cases of human West Nile disease in calendar year 2003, with a total of 560 deaths from this disorder over 5 years. The disease is usually transmitted by a bite from an infected mosquito, but can also occur after transplantation of an infected organ or transfusions of infected blood or blood products. Symptoms are flu-like and include fever, headache, and joint pain. Some patients may develop a skin rash and swollen lymph glands, while others may not show any symptoms. At highest risk are elderly adults and people with weakened immune systems.

Who is at risk for encephalitis and meningitis?

Anyone can get encephalitis or meningitis. People with weakened immune systems, including those persons with HIV or those taking immunosuppressant drugs, are at increased risk.

How are these disorders transmitted?

Some forms of bacterial meningitis and encephalitis are contagious and can be spread through contact with saliva, nasal discharge, feces, or respiratory and throat secretions (often spread through kissing, coughing, or sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, or such personal items as toothbrushes, lipstick, or cigarettes). For example, people sharing a household, at a day care center, or in a classroom with an infected person can become infected. College students living in dormitories—in particular, college freshmen—have a higher risk of contracting meningococcal meningitis than college students overall. Children who have not been given routine vaccines are at increased risk of developing certain types of bacterial meningitis.
Because these diseases can occur suddenly and progress rapidly, anyone who is suspected of having either meningitis or encephalitis should immediately contact a doctor or go to the hospital.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Individuals with encephalitis often show mild flu-like symptoms. In more severe cases, patients may experience problems with speech or hearing, double vision, hallucinations, personality changes, loss of consciousness, loss of sensation in some parts of the body, muscle weakness, partial paralysis in the arms and legs, sudden severe dementia, seizures, and memory loss.
Important signs of meningitis or encephalitis to watch for in an infant include fever, lethargy, not waking for feeding, vomiting, body stiffness, unexplained or unusual irritability, and a full or bulging fontanel (the soft spot on the top of the head).

How are meningitis and encephalitis diagnosed?

Following a physical exam and medical history to review activities of the past several days/weeks (such as recent exposure to insects or animals, any contact with ill persons, recent travel, or preexisting medical conditions and medications list), the doctor may order various diagnostic tests to confirm the presence of infection and inflammation. Early diagnosis is vital, as symptoms can appear suddenly and escalate to brain damage, hearing and/or speech loss, blindness, or even death.
neurological examination involves a series of tests designed to assess motor and sensory function, nerve function, hearing and speech, vision, coordination and balance, mental status, and changes in mood or behavior. Doctors may test the function of the nervous system through tests of strength and sensation, with the aid of items including a tuning fork, small light, reflex hammer, and pins.
Laboratory screening of blood, urine, and body secretions can help detect and identify brain and/or spinal cord infection and determine the presence of antibodies and foreign proteins. Such tests can also rule out metabolic conditions that have similar symptoms. For example, a throat culture may be taken to check for viral or bacterial organisms that cause meningitis or encephalitis. In this procedure, the back of the throat is wiped with a sterile cotton swab, which is then placed on a culture medium. Viruses and bacteria are then allowed to grow on the medium. Samples are usually taken in the physician’s office or in a laboratory setting and sent out for analysis to state laboratories or to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Results are usually available in 2 to 3 days.
Analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord can detect infections in the brain and/or spinal cord, acute and chronic inflammation, and other diseases. In a procedure known as a spinal tap (or lumbar puncture), a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid is removed by a special needle that is inserted into the lower back. The skin is anesthetized with a local anesthetic prior to the sampling. The fluid, which is completely clear in healthy people, is tested to detect the presence of bacteria or blood, as well as to measure glucose levels (a low glucose level can be seen in bacterial or fungal meningitis) and white blood cells (elevated white blood cell counts are also a sign of infection). The procedure is done in a hospital and takes about 45 minutes.The individual will most often be placed on antibiotics and an antiviral drug while awaiting the final microbiology results as delay in treatment can be life-threatening.
Brain imaging can reveal signs of brain inflammation, internal bleeding or hemorrhage, or other brain abnormalities. Two painless, noninvasive imaging procedures are routinely used to diagnose meningitis and encephalitis.
  • Computed tomography, also known as a CT scan, combines x-rays and computer technology to produce rapid, clear, two-dimensional images of organs, bones, and tissues. Occasionally a contrast dye is injected into the bloodstream to highlight the different tissues in the brain and to detect signs of encephalitis or inflammation of the meninges. CT scans can also detect bone and blood vessel irregularities, certain brain tumors and cysts, herniated discs, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), blood clots or intracranial bleeding in patients with stroke, brain damage from a head injury, and other disorders. If the individual has abnormal results on a neurological examination, often a CT scan is performed to look for brain swelling, hemorrhage, or abscess which if present, could make a spinal tap unsafe.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses computer-generated radio waves and a strong magnet to produce detailed images of body structures, including tissues, organs, bones, and nerves. Thee is no radiation involved in this test and it gives a much better picture of the actual brain tissue. this may not be available in the emergency setting so a CT scan is usually performed first in very ill individuals. The pictures, which are clearer than those produced by CT, can help identify brain and spinal cord inflammation, infection, tumors, eye disease, and blood vessel irregularities that may lead to stroke. A contrast dye may be injected prior to the test to reveal more detail.
Electroencephalography, or EEG, can identify abnormal brain waves by monitoring electrical activity in the brain through the skull. Among its many functions, EEG is used to help diagnose seizures or patterns that may suggest specific viral infections such as herpes virus, and to detect subclinical seizures which may contribute to abnormalities in level of consciousness in critically ill individuals.

How are these infections treated?

Persons who are suspected of having meningitis or encephalitis should receive immediate, aggressive medical treatment. Both diseases can progress quickly and have the potential to cause severe, irreversible neurological damage.
Antiviral drugs used to treat viral encephalitis include acyclovir and ganciclovir.
Anticonvulsants may be prescribed to stop or prevent seizures. Corticosteroids can reduce brain swelling. Individuals with breathing difficulties may require artificial respiration. 
Autoimmune causes of encephalitis are treated with additional immunosuppressant drugs and screening for tumors when appropriate.
Individuals should receive evaluation for comprehensive rehabilitation that might include cognitive rehabilitation, physical, speech, and occupational therapy once the acute illness is under control.

What is the prognosis for these infections?

Outcome generally depends on the particular infectious agent involved, the severity of the illness, and how quickly treatment is given. In most cases, people with very mild encephalitis or meningitis can make a full recovery, although the process may be slow.
Individuals who experience only headache, fever, and stiff neck may recover in 2-4 weeks. Those with bacterial meningitis typically show some relief 48-72 hours following initial treatment but are more likely to experience complications caused by the disease. In more serious cases, these diseases can cause hearing and/or speech loss, blindness, permanent brain and nerve damage, behavioral changes, cognitive disabilities, lack of muscle control, seizures, and memory loss. These patients may need long-term therapy, medication, and supportive care. The recovery from encephalitis is variable depending on the cause and extent of brain inflammation.

What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, conducts and supports a wide range of research on neurological disorders, including meningitis and encephalitis. Current research efforts include gaining a better understanding of how the central nervous system responds to inflammation and to better understand the molecular mechanisms involved in the protection and disruption of the blood-brain barrier, which could lead to the development of new treatments for several neuroinflammatory diseases such as meningitis and encephalitis. A possible therapeutic approach under investigation involves testing neuroprotective compounds that block the damage that accumulates after the infection, and how the inflammation of meningitis and encephalitis can lead to potential complications including loss of cognitive function and dementia.

Where can I get more information?

For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute's Brain Resources and Information Network (BRAIN) at:
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Information also is available from the following organizations:

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Meningitis Foundation of America, Inc.
    P.O. Box 1818
    El Mirage, AZ 85335
    Tel: 480-270-2652
    National Meningitis Association
    P.O. Box 60143
    Ft. Myers, FL 33906
    Tel: 866-366-3662
    Fax: 877-703-6096
    NIAID Office of Communications and Government Relations
    National Institutes of Health, DHHS
    5601 Fishers Lane, MSC 9806
    Bethesda, MD 20892
    Tel: 301-496-5717

    "Meningitis and Encephalitis Fact Sheet", NINDS, 
    NIH Publication No. 04-4840
    Prepared by:
    Office of Communications and Public Liaison
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    National Institutes of Health
    Bethesda, MD 20892


    Living With Raynaud's

    Primary Raynaud's (Raynaud's disease) and secondary Raynaud's (Raynaud's phenomenon) can be lifelong conditions. However, you can take steps to help control Raynaud's. Lifestyle changes and ongoing care can help you manage the disorder.

    Most people who have primary Raynaud's can manage the disorder with lifestyle changes. People who have secondary Raynaud's may need medicines in addition to lifestyle changes. Rarely, they may need surgery or shots.

    Lifestyle Changes

    You can take steps to avoid things that trigger Raynaud's attacks. If you have Raynaud's:
    • Protect yourself from cold temperatures.
    • Try to avoid emotional stress and learn ways to cope with stress that you can't avoid.
    • Avoid certain medicines, substances, and activities that can trigger Raynaud's attacks. (For more information, see "What Causes Raynaud's?")
    • Include physical activity as part of your healthy lifestyle and limit your use of caffeine and alcohol. If you smoke, quit. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke.
    You also can take steps to stop a Raynaud's attack once it starts. Warm up your hands, feet, or other affected areas right away. For example, place your hands under your armpits, run warm water over your fingers and toes, or massage your hands and feet.
    If you have Raynaud's, be sure to take care of your hands and feet. Protect them from cuts, bruises, and other injuries. For example, wear properly fitted shoes and don't walk barefoot. Use lotion to prevent your skin from drying and cracking. Also, avoid tight wristbands and rings.

    Ongoing Care

    If you have Raynaud's, it's important to get ongoing care. Talk with your doctor about how often to schedule followup visits. Take all medicines as your doctor prescribes.
    See your doctor right away if your Raynaud's symptoms get worse or if you develop sores on your fingers, toes, or other parts of your body. Timely treatment can help prevent permanent damage to these areas.


    Primary Raynaud's (Raynaud's disease) and secondary Raynaud's (Raynaud's phenomenon) have no cure. However, treatments can reduce the number and severity of Raynaud's attacks. Treatments include lifestyle changes, medicines, and, rarely, surgery.
    Most people who have primary Raynaud's can manage the condition with lifestyle changes. People who have secondary Raynaud's may need medicines in addition to lifestyle changes. Rarely, they may need surgery or shots.
    If you have Raynaud's and develop sores on your fingers, toes, or other parts of your body, see your doctor right away. Timely treatment can help prevent permanent damage to these areas.

    Lifestyle Changes

    Lifestyle changes can help you avoid things that may trigger a Raynaud's attack. Examples of such triggers include cold temperatures, emotional stress, workplace or recreational factors, and contact with certain chemicals or medicines.

    Protect Yourself From Cold Temperatures

    To protect yourself from cold temperatures:
    • Wear a hat, mittens (rather than gloves), scarf, coat with snug cuffs, and warm socks and shoes during cold weather. Layer your clothing for extra warmth.
    • Put hand and foot warmers in your mittens, boots, socks, or pockets. Some warmers are small heat packs, and others are battery-operated. These warmers often are available at sporting goods stores.
    • Turn down air conditioning or dress warmly while in an air-conditioned space.
    • Warm up your car before driving in cold weather.
    • Wear gloves or mittens when taking food out of the refrigerator or freezer (if cold temperatures severely affect you).

    Avoid Other Triggers

    Try to avoid things that make you upset or stressed. Learn ways to
    handle stress that you can't avoid. Physical activity helps some people cope with stress. Other people listen to music or focus on something calm or peaceful to reduce stress. Some people learn yoga, tai chi, or meditation.
    Try to avoid workplace and recreational triggers. For example, limit the use of vibrating tools, such as drills. Wear proper protective gear if you work with industrial chemicals. Also, try to limit repetitive hand actions, such as typing or playing the piano.
    Some medicines can trigger Raynaud's attacks. Examples include:
    • Migraine headache medicines that contain ergotamine. This substance causes your arteries to narrow.
    • Certain cancer medicines, such as cisplatin and vinblastine.
    • Over-the-counter cold or allergy medicines or diet aids. Some of these medicines can narrow your arteries.
    • Beta blockers. These medicines slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure.
    • Birth control pills. These medicines can affect blood flow.
    Talk with your doctor about whether your medicines are safe for you.

    Other Lifestyle Changes

    Other lifestyle changes also can help you avoid Raynaud's attacks. For example, include physical activity as part of your healthy lifestyle. Physical activity can increase your blood flow and help keep you warm.
    Limit your use of caffeine and alcohol. These substances can trigger Raynaud's attacks. If you smoke, quit. Smoking makes Raynaud's worse. Ask your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke.
    You also can take steps to help stop Raynaud's attacks when they occur. For example:
    • Move to a warmer spot, such as indoors, during cold weather.
    • Warm your hands or feet. Place your hands under your armpits. Soak your feet or hands in warm water.
    • Wiggle or massage your fingers and toes.
    • Move your arms in circles or shake your arms or feet.
    • Get out of stressful situations and try relaxation techniques.
    If you have Raynaud's, be sure to take care of your hands and feet. Protect them from cuts, bruises, and other injuries. For example, wear properly fitted shoes and don't walk barefoot. Use lotion to prevent your skin from drying and cracking. Also, avoid tight wristbands and rings.

    Medicines and Surgery

    If lifestyle changes don't control Raynaud's, you may need medicines or surgery. Medicines are used to improve blood flow to the fingers and toes.
    Examples of medicines used to treat Raynaud's include calcium channel blockers, alpha blockers, prescription skin creams, and ACE inhibitors (used less often).
    Rarely, people who have severe Raynaud's may develop skin sores or gangrene. "Gangrene" refers to the death or decay of body tissues. If this happens, antibiotics or surgery to cut out the damaged tissue may be needed. In very serious cases, the affected toe or finger may need to be removed.
    Another treatment for severe Raynaud's is to block the nerves in the hands or feet that control the arteries. This can help prevent Raynaud's attacks. This treatment is done using surgery or shots.
    The surgery often relieves symptoms, but sometimes for only a few years. Shots may need to be repeated if symptoms persist or come back.

    Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Raynaud's Awareness

    Raynaud's and breastfeeding

    If you have Raynaud's or know someone who does you are aware of the painful symptoms in fingers and toes caused by poor circulation that can be triggered by cold and other things. 

    Raynaud's is quite common - apparently 1 in 5 women suffer from it. Raynaud's affects the arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to different parts of your body.
    Raynaud's sometimes is called a disease, syndrome, or phenomenon. The disorder is marked by brief episodes of vasospasm (VA-so-spazm), which is a narrowing of the blood vessels.
    Vasospasm of the arteries reduces blood flow to the fingers and toes. In people who have Raynaud's, the disorder usually affects the fingers. In about 40 percent of people who have Raynaud's, it affects the toes. 

    Are you aware that Raynaud's can affect other parts of the body too?

    Raynaud's can affect nipples

    Read how this breast feeding doctor found out that Raynaud's can also affect the nipples in a painful way and what drugs she has taken in the past and what she does now to control her symptoms here. 

    Thanks Caroline for sharing your helpful story at The Hippocratic Post

    Rarely Raynaud's can also affect the nose, ears, and lips.

    Important Raynaud's links that can give you more information about this condition which is very common in many autoimmune diseases such as myositis and scleroderma:
    RESOURCES: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


    Fast food makes the immune system more aggressive in the long term

    Fast food makes the immune system more aggressive in the long term

    Even after a change to a healthy diet, body defense remains hyperactive, according to a study by the University of Bonn

    On a high-fat and high-calorie diet, the immune system reacts similar to a bacterial infection. This is shown by a recent study led by the University of Bonn. 

    Particularly disturbing: Unhealthy eating seems to make bodybuilding more aggressive in the long term. So long after switching to a healthy diet, inflammation occurs faster. These directly promote the development of arteriosclerosis and diabetes. The results appear in the renowned journal "Cell".

    The scientists used mice for a month on a so-called "Western diet": high in fat, high in sugar, low in fiber. The animals then developed a massive body-wide inflammation - almost like after infection by dangerous bacteria. "The unhealthy diet has led to an unexpected increase in some immune cells in the blood. This was an indication of the involvement of progenitor cells in the bone marrow in the inflammatory process, "reports Anette Christ, postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Innate Immunity of the University of Bonn. To better understand these changes, scientists isolated the progenitor cells of immune cells from the bone marrow of mice fed with "western diet" or normal diet, and performed a systematic analysis of their function and activation status.
    "Genomic studies actually showed that a large number of genes were activated in the precursor cells by the Western diet. Hereditary factors included heredity for their reproduction and maturation. So fast food leads to the fact that the body quickly recruits a huge, powerful fighting force, "explains Prof. Dr. med. Joachim Schultze from the Life & Medical Sciences Institute (LIMES) of the University of Bonn and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE).
    When the researchers offered the rodents their typical cereal diet for another four weeks, the acute inflammation disappeared. What did not go away was the genetic reprogramming of the immune cells: even after these four weeks, many of the hereditary factors active in the fast-food phase were still active in them.
    "Fastfood sensor" in the immune cells
    "We have only recently known that the innate immune system has a memory," explains Prof. Dr. med. Eicke Latz, director of the Institute for Innate Immunity of the University of Bonn and scientist at the DZNE. "After an infection, the body's defenses remain in a kind of alarm state, so that they can respond more quickly to a new attack." Experts call this the "innate immune training". In the mice, this process was not triggered by a bacterium, but by unhealthy diet.
    The scientists even identified the "fast food sensor" in the immune cells responsible for it. They examined blood cells from 120 subjects. In some of these subjects, the innate immune system showed a particularly strong training effect. In them, the researchers found genetic evidence that it is involved in a so-called inflammasome. Inflammasome are sensors of the innate immune system. They detect harmful substances and subsequently release highly inflammatory messengers.
    The inflammasome identified in the study is activated by certain food ingredients. Interestingly, this has long-term consequences in addition to the acute inflammatory response: namely, the activation changes the way in which the genetic information is packaged. The genetic material is stored in the DNA. Each cell contains several DNA strands, which together are about two meters long. However, they are wrapped around proteins and strongly entangled. Many genes on the DNA can therefore not be read - they are simply too poorly accessible.
    Unhealthy eating causes some of these normally hidden pieces of DNA to unroll - much as if a loop were hanging out of a ball of wool. This area of ​​the genetic material is easier to read in the long term. Scientists speak of epigenetic changes. "The inflammasome triggers such epigenetic changes," explains Prof. Latz. "The immune system reacts in the sequence to small stimuli with stronger inflammatory responses."
    Dramatic consequences for the health
    These in turn can drastically accelerate the development of vascular diseases or type 2 diabetes. In arteriosclerosis, for example, the typical vascular deposits, the plaques, consist largely of lipids and immune cells. The inflammatory reaction contributes directly to their growth, because constantly new activated immune cells migrate into the altered vessel walls. When the plaques become too large, they burst, are carried away by the bloodstream and can clog other vessels. Possible consequences: stroke or heart attack.
    Malnutrition can have dramatic consequences. In recent centuries, average life expectancy has steadily increased in western countries. This trend is being broken for the first time: Anyone born today will probably live shorter on average than his parents. Bad eating and too little exercise should play a decisive role in this.
    "These findings therefore have enormous social relevance," explains Latz. "The foundations of a healthy diet need to become much more important than today. Only in this way can we immunize children at an early stage against the temptations of the food industry - before they develop long-term consequences. Children have a choice of what they eat every day. We should enable them to make a conscious choice in their diet. "
    The work involved groups from the Netherlands, the USA, Norway and Germany. Latz and Schultze are members of the Cluster of Excellence "ImmunoSensation", which deals with the achievements of the innate immune system. Latz is considered one of the most internationally renowned researchers in this field. In December he was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize for his work. This is considered one of the most prestigious science awards in Germany.
    Publication: Anette Christ, Patrick Günther, Mario AR Lauterbach, Peter Duewell, Debjani Biswas, Karin Pelka, Claus J. Scholz, Marije Oosting, Kristian Haendler, Kevin Baßler, Kathrin Klee, Jonas Schulte-Schrepping, Thomas Ulas, Simone JCFM Moorlag, Vinod Kumar, Min Hi Park, Leo AB Joosten, Laszlo A. Groh, Niels P. Riksen, Terje Espevik, Andreas Schlitzer, Yang Li, Michael L. Fitzgerald, Mihai G. Netea, Joachim L. Schultze and Eicke Latz: Western diet triggers NLRP3-dependent innate immune reprograming; Cell, DOI: 10.1016 / j.cell.2017.12.013
    Prof. Dr. Eicke Latz 
    Institute for Innate Immunity, University of Bonn 
    and German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) 
    Tel .: 0228 / 287-51223 
    University of Bonn. "Fast food makes the immune system more aggressive in the long term: Study shows that even after a change to a healthy diet, the body's defenses remain hyperactive." 


    Therefore, autoimmune diseases are getting worse and worse

    Danish researcher has helped break the code of how diseases where the immune system attacks the body is spreading. 
    ARTICLE BY  Kristian Sjøgren Journalist from translated here into English.
    Psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases just get worse and worse. (Photo: Shutterstock)

    When the immune system attacks the body, it is almost unnoticed, but slowly attacked more powerful and more powerful until it develops into debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or other autoimmune diseases.
    Now, a Danish researcher, along with researchers from Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital, has revealed how the immune system constantly intensifies its attack.
    The discovery can eventually help detect and control the diseases before they completely break through.
    "It's a big step in the right direction to develop medicine that can effectively slow down the negative spiral that the immune system is taking," says Associate Professor at the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University. Søren Egedal Degn, co-author of the study.
    The new study is published in the scientific journal Cell.
    Professor Gunnar Houen from the State Serum Institute calls it a very large and interesting work.
    "The results emphasize the importance of co-operation between the innate and induced immune system and the importance of the B cells in that context," says Gunnar Houen.

    Autoimmune diseases make researchers wonder

    The immune system is designed to eliminate viruses, bacteria and other foreign bodies by recognizing antibodies and attaching to so-called antigens that can sit on the surface of a bacterium.
    Subsequently, the antibodies attract other parts of the immune system that neutralize the threat.
    Sometimes it goes wrong.
    When the immune system attacks the body, the immune system's B cells make antibodies that recognize antigens in the body's own tissue, own proteins or own DNA and attack them.
    From there, things escalate slowly, and in a disease such as lupus, researchers can see traces of the autoimmune reaction up to ten years before, the patient meets the doctor and gets the diagnosis.
    This development has for many years led researchers to wonder in the scalp.
    "We can understand that the immune system can mistake and attack the body itself. But so far we have not been able to understand why the reaction is constantly getting stronger and stronger while spreading to other tissues and organs. That is what we have now found out, "says Søren Egedal Degn.
    Three out of four people affected by autoimmune diseases are women. (Photo: Shutterstock)

    The immune system reinforces its attack

    Søren Egedal Degn's research shows that the immune system's B cells, which produce the antibodies that react with the body's own cells, constantly recruit other B cells to participate in the fight against what they think is a threat.
    It occurs in the so-called 'germ centers' within the lymph nodes and spleen where the B cells develop their antibodies. The purpose of the centers is to ensure that the B cells produce antibodies that recognize the foreign bodies as best as possible, so that they constantly enrich the antibodies' ability to bind to the antigens.
    The problem is simply that B cells that are programmed to make a type of antibody raise B cells that make another antibody into the germs. In this way, the immune system goes from attacking one place in the body to two places in the body to three places and so on.
    "It is a negative spiral where the B cells continue to recognize something new in the body and constantly enhance their response. In other words, one type B cells, which only attack one place in the body, mean that many B cells attack many different parts of the body. It is spreading as little in the water, thus developing autoimmune diseases to the worse, "explains Søren Egedal Degn.

    Discovery can be used diagnostically

    According to Søren Egedal Degn, the new discovery can be the starting point for drug development that puts an end to the destructive behavior of B-cells and germs.
    He tells that discovery can help put the finger on the mechanism to be controlled if the autoimmune diseases are under control.
    "Our results can be used to increase momentum in the direction of developing drugs that aim to try to quench the germs. We may also be able to use diagnostic surveys of the germ centers to see if various autoimmune diseases are on the rise, "says Søren Egedal Degn.
    Discovered the behavior of B-cells by one case
    The new discovery occurred in a case when Søren Egedal Degn with colleagues examined the autoimmune disease lupus in mice. Here they examined the germ cells to find out how the immune system of the mouse reacts during the disease.
    To their great surprise, they also found a lot of other B cells inside the sex centers, many of which recognized antigens in other organs and tissues of the body.
    "They would not, under normal circumstances, become autoreactive, but we could see that they became because they were pulled in there by other B cells. From there we went on to study the findings and confirmed it in various museum and cell trials, "says Søren Egedal Degn.


    Low-gluten strain of wheat, which could be good news for people with gluten intolerance

    Scientists create Low-gluten strain of wheat

    A low-gluten strain of wheat has been developed by scientists at the Institute of Sustainable Agriculture in Cordoba, Spain. This is good news for people with gluten intolerance or possibly even celiac disease.

    The new cereal has been created using a gene-editing technique called CRISPR/Cas9 tool. CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats and is a genetic modification technique. This technology has been used to eliminate the majority of the gliadins in wheat. These are the gluten proteins which cause most of the gluten intolerance issues for people triggering celiac disease in genetically predisposed individuals.”

    We show that CRISPR/Cas9 technology can be used to precisely and efficiently reduce the amount of α-gliadins in the seed kernel, providing bread and durum wheat lines with reduced immunoreactivity for gluten intolerant consumers. Dr. Francisco Barro Losada, geneticist whose team carried out the research.

    Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It's what gives bread it's soft texture and the lack of it is why many gluten free breads are just not soft like wheat bread.

    Certain conditions can cause an adverse reaction to gluten. Many people with autoimmune disease report that they feel better when they remove gluten from their diet. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that requires celiacs to completely remove gluten from their diets. Their immune systems respond incorrectly to gluten, which damages the gut lining and can lead to bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, malnutrition, anemia, brain damage and even gut cancers.

    Let's hope that this low-gluten strain of wheat will soon be used to make low-gluten bread.

    Journal Reference: Low-gluten, nontransgenic wheat engineered with CRISPR/Cas9.

    You might also be interested in the video The Difference Between Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity
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