Research NewsAutoimmunity

Thyroid Disease—A Case of Cell Suicide?

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Science  14 Feb 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5302, pp. 926
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5302.926

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In autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system goes awry and turns on the body's own tissues. But researchers do not know which of the immune system's several types of killer T cells carries out the attack, nor why killer cells are scarce at the site of tissue destruction in many autoimmune diseases. New results published in this issue (p. 960) suggest that in at least one autoimmune disease, the immune system itself may not carry out the final act: Instead, the target cells commit suicide through a process called apoptosis.