What causes autoimmune disease? Jeff Bluestone of the University of California, San Francisco - one of the world's leading authorities on the mechanisms behind autoimmunity - talks us through the pathways that trigger and fuel the internal battle to control the immune system.

Thomas Dörner of the Charite University Hospital Berlin (see article here) and Yoshiyuki Ohsugi of Chugai Pharmaceutical (see article here) describe, respectively, the evolving understanding of B cells and interleuken-6 in a variety of autoimmune diseases.

The ultimate causes of autoimmunity, however, remain obscure. Michael Szpir surveys the impact of the environmental factors, including known and intriguing connections between diet and lupus, smoking and rheumatoid arthritis, and iodine and autoimmune thyroid diseases.

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