I'm posting this because my understanding on the topic has evolved and I wanted to post an update. I've been thinking about autoimmunity for some time. I've had this question floating around in my head: "If you're body makes any autoantibodies at all, doesn't that mean there is an antigen somewhere in your diet or environment that you need to be avoiding? Doesn't it mean that your immune response is confused? Is it true that the body should not make any autoantibodies at all? Is there any reason why the body should need to make them?"
The answer to this seems intuitive. Autoantibodies are antibodies that kill off your own body's cells. Well, someone somewhere (I thought it was this thread but I guess I was wrong) made a statement. He/she said: "I think that autoantibodoes are part of the body cleaning out dead cells."
That made some sense to me for a while, until I looked further into it today. It turns out that the "cleaning out of dead cells" in the body is called apoptosis and is done by phagoycites. I read this on wikipedia: "The removal of dying cells by phagocytes occurs in an orderly manner without eliciting an inflammatory response."
So this means that the body's immune response is not activated or involved in "cleaning out the body's dead cells (housecleaning)." This implies that autoantibodies are not produced for the purpose of housecleaning.
Is there any reason that the body would need to produce autoantibodies? Or does any (no matter how small) amount of production of autoantibodies mean that the immune system is confused?
And is there a way to "fix" the confused immune system so that it can once again tell the difference between self cells and non-self cells?