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Is ALS an Autoimmune Disease?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease with relatively undefined origins. As researchers study ALS, a baffling question arises: Could it be related to autoimmunity?

Defining Autoimmunity

Autoimmunity refers to the immune system wrongly targeting and attacking the body’s own cells, instead of solemnly combating external pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, as a result of a misdirected response. Examples of well-known autoimmune diseases are lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.

Immune System and ALS Disease

The researchers have conducted three main observations to highlight the potential role of the immune system in ALS:

Based on current scientific understanding, ALS is not categorized as an autoimmune disease. Though there is detectable immune system involvement, it remains inconclusive whether this is the determined cause or rather just a result of the neurodegenerative progression caused by ALS.

The specific targeting of the body's own cells by the immune system is a characteristic of autoimmune diseases – in ALS, this specific targeting of motor neurons remains unspecified. Until the research gets conclusive, it's more accurate to describe ALS as a neurodegenerative disease with possible autoimmune components, rather than a classic autoimmune disease.

John Hopkins: Autoimmune Diseases
Autoimmune Diseases in ALS Patients Linked to Genetic Mutation
The role of immune and inflammatory mechanisms in ALS
The peripheral immune system and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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