Autoimmune Disease as a Fragility of Immune Surveillance against hypersecreting Mutants

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We address the origin of endocrine autoimmune disease from the viewpoint of feedback control. Endocrine tissues maintain mass through feedback loops that balance cell proliferation and removal according to hormone-driven regulatory signals. We hypothesize the existence of a dedicated mechanism that detects and removes mutant cells that missense the signal and therefore hyperproliferate and hypersecrete with potential to disrupt organismal homeostasis. In this mechanism, hypersecreting cells are preferentially eliminated by autoreactive T cells at the cost of a fragility to autoimmune disease. The “autoimmune surveillance of hypersecreting mutants” (ASHM) hypothesis predicts the presence of autoreactive T cells in healthy individuals and the nature of self-antigens as peptides from hormone secretion pathway. It explains why some tissues get prevalent autoimmune disease, whereas others do not and instead show prevalent mutant-expansion disease (e.g., hyperparathyroidism). We discuss experimental follow-up.