Could the word “idiopathic” be deleted from the discussion of some our most painful, costly and prevalent inflammatory conditions? Currently, a large number of idiopathic diseases are classified as “auto-immune”. Presumably, the immune system goes awry and begins essentially attacking healthy tissues and cells. The elephant in the corner of the room is a question just begging to be asked. Does widespread auto-immunity make sense from an evolutionary and scientific standpoint?
According to a compelling body of research on chronic intracellular infections, the answer to that question is no. Is infection playing a role for every patient with idiopathic, inflammatory/auto-immune conditions? Probably not. There are also genetic and environmental factors to consider. However, a number of conditions have been strongly linked to infection by peer-reviewed research publications; thus, the concept is not new or outlandish. After all, we now acknowledge that gastric ulcers are caused by H. pylori bacteria and that cervical cancer is caused by HPV.
This site places heavy emphasis on a well-studied, obligate intracellular bacterium called Chlamydia pneumoniae (CpN) for good reason. While there are other important organisms, both bacteria, and viruses, CpN has a unique skill set that makes it an ideal candidate for eliciting a widespread inflammatory response. As you look at the research and review articles organized by the various conditions, a trend emerges. CpN preferentially infects the cells that make up the immune system, and in doing so arrives Trojan Horse-style to a host of other locations. Some of the most studied locations and conditions are the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, the vessels of those with Coronary Artery Disease, the lungs of patients with Asthma, the joints of Arthritis patients and the brains of those with Multiple Sclerosis.
Here is an excellent review of the spectrum of diseases correlated to CpN infection.