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While the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, several mechanisms have been described extensively. The genetic predisposition for this autoimmune disease is largely attributed to MHC class II genes, especially the main polymorphism in the HLA shared epitope. Non-genetic factors account for the rest. The best known are autoantigens to citrullinated or carbmylated proteins, although there are many others. They are recognized by an immune system with defective control mechanisms, in which regulator T-cells are unable to prevent inflammation and the destruction of tissue, joint and vascular structures (among others). Polymorphonuclear neutrophils, which are very abundant at sites of inflammation, interfere with attempts at regulation. Cell metabolism, which typically participates in fighting against the autoantigen attack, does not respond correctly to the demands, making the inflammatory phenomenon worse. This is also the case for environmental factors such as atmospheric pollution, dust, diet (especially salt intake) and infections. Inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α, IL-1 and IL-17, are certain implicated, but not initially. They appear as a common execution pathway for a lengthy sentence following an unfortunate encounter between genetic predisposition and a harmful environment.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Rheumatoid arthritis, Autoimmunity, Citrullinated antigens, Cytokines, Microbiota