In the narrative of the miraculous healing Eraclio, the Bishop of liège, Dating from the X century, mentioned a mysterious disease called lupus (literally — “wolf”). Apparently, the next several centuries it referred to a whole range of diseases with dermatological manifestations. However, judging by the description of doctors from the Paris hospital, St. Louis, where at the beginning of the XIX century was founded the leading at that time the school skin diseases, symptoms of lupus — in particular, the “centrifugal erythema observed rarely, usually manifests itself in young men and women mostly on the face” — well meet the diagnostic criteria of the disease, currently known as systemic lupus erythematosus.
In the international classification of diseases lupus still bears the name lupus erythematosus refers to systemic autoimmune diseases. This class is heterogeneous in clinical manifestations of the disease caused the body to produce antibodies against itself — so-called autoantibodies, resulting in the affected connective tissue and various organs. Lupus is not the most common of them. But perhaps the “media” — Dr. Gregory house from the eponymous TV series not just suspected it from their patients.
As the history of lupus, people suffering with autoimmune diseases for centuries, but science has officially recognized the existence of such a class of diseases only in the middle of the twentieth century. In 1964 hosted the first ever international conference on autoimmune diseases, which “legalized” many diagnoses of this kind and finally I removed the field from the shadows.
However, “full of UPS and downs,” history of studies of autoimmunity began simultaneously with the birth of immunology at the junction of the XIX and XX centuries. “Father immunity” Paul Ehrlich, who coined the concept of the immune response in the form of the formula “the body gets a foreign antigen the body produces antibodies against it”, tried to immunize goats by their red blood cells and saw no antibodies against its own tissues. The scientist concluded that the body was somehow protected from the development of immune responses to self components, and in 1901 formulated the concept of horror autotoxicus, which literally translates as “the horror of self-poisoning”. Later this concept was revived in the form of the theory of immunotolerance, but every rule has exceptions.
Already in 1903, Karl Landsteiner, who for two years previously formulated the theory of blood groups, described several patients in whom blood was present so-called autodemolizione — when cooling the protein bind their own red blood cells and led to their destruction (hemolysis). Several experimental confirmations of the existence of autoantibodies were from patients with thyroid disease. However, as often happens, the credibility of a prominent scientist (Ehrlich) outweighs the clinical arguments. And autoantibodies forgotten for another few decades.