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Autoimmune diseases are the result of specific immune responses directed against structures of the self. The organism possesses powerful mechanisms to avoid immune auto-aggression. The acquired ability of the immune system to avoid responsiveness to self-antigens is defined as ‘tolerance’, and is obtained by the cooperative efforts of central and peripheral mechanisms, which allow a rapid and efficient removal of pathogens (e.g. viruses or bacteria) in the absence of self-recognition.

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