Autoimmune disease is growing at epidemic proportions in the Western industrialized counties, with a very strong predominance of women being affected. A phenomenon not observed in the under-developed world. It is becoming very clear that autoimmune disease is a complex entity and may represent the result of a “perfect storm” of biological and environmental factors and that a systems-biology approach, utilizing a wider-lens perspective, will be required as these subjects are approached clinically. There are considerable gaps between the focus of autoimmune medical research and the current approach to these conditions in standard clinical medicine with standard interventions based predominantly on symptom control and immune suppression. This expert panel with review the various hypotheses proposed to explain this ongoing epidemic. Discussion elements will include an exploration of why females are at such increased risk, as well as the ever-increasing incidence of pediatric autoimmune disorders, such as PANS and PANDAS. The role of the GI microbiota, stealth infections, molecular mimicry, GI microbial metabolites, the hygiene hypothesis, and food immune reactions in autoimmune disease pathogenesis will also be explored along with how these may serve as leverage points for clinical interventions. New opportunities for proactive screening for at-risk subjects for autoimmune disorders using emerging predictive antibody testing will also be discussed.
- Participants will be able to explain the current epidemiologic trends in autoimmune incidence, morbidity and mortality.
- Participants will be able to explain the association between autoimmune disease prevalence and factors including the GI microbiota composition, food immune reactions, stealth infections, molecular mimicry, lack of early diverse antigen exposure, etc.
- Participants will be able to discuss the available clinical laboratory testing related to autoimmune disease risk assessment, diagnosis, and clinical management, including PCR molecular-based evaluation of the GI microbiota.
- Participants will be able to utilize the available evidence-based nutritional, lifestyle and complementary therapeutic interventions for autoimmune disorders.
- Participants will be able to discuss strategies of collaborative care for patients with autoimmune disorders.