Autoimmune conditions are a group of diseases resulting from our immune system attacking our own cells and proteins. This immune attack results in damage to cells, enzymes, and receptors which result in chronic inflammation and a reduction in optimal functioning. We describe below just a few of the most common presenting autoimmune diseases and the labs we use to expose them.
The thyroid gland produces hormones that help regulate many functions in the body, optimizing most importantly energy, sleep, and mood. Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder affecting the thyroid gland leading to reduced thyroid hormones. Thyroid peroxidase and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies can be measured in normal lab testing and reveal if any hidden attacks on the thyroid are active.
This disease usually results in a decline in thyroid hormone production known as hypothyroidism. Although anyone can develop Hashimoto’s disease, it’s most common among middle-aged women. The primary treatment is thyroid hormone replacement with Tirosint, Liothyronine, or natural hormone replacement (a combination of T4 and T3).
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder characterized by an excessive immune response to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, and other similar dietary grains including rye and barley. Celiac disease antibody tests help diagnose and monitor gluten-sensitive conditions. These tests detect autoantibodies in the blood that the body produces as part of the immune response.
This immune response leads to inflammation of the small intestine and eventual destruction of the villi that line the intestinal wall. The villi are small tissue folds that increase the surface area of the intestine and allow nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fluids, and electrolytes to be absorbed into the body. When a susceptible person is exposed to gluten, the person’s body produces autoantibodies that act against the cells of the intestinal wall. When villi are damaged or destroyed, the body is much less capable of absorbing food and begins to develop signs and symptoms associated with malnutrition and malabsorption.
Reaction to gluten also produces many non-digestive complaints including fatigue, joint and muscle pain, headaches, and brain fog. In addition, these gluten reactions can increase the risk of autoimmune diseases and cognitive disorders such as Alzheimers and dementia. Since it fails to produce obvious symptoms it can be very valuable to evaluate gluten reactions erly on in lab testing.
The ANA test is one of the primary tests for helping to diagnose a suspected autoimmune disorder or rule out other conditions with similar signs and symptoms. Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) are a group of autoantibodies produced by a person’s immune system when it fails to adequately distinguish between “self” and “nonself.” ANA reacts with components of the body’s own healthy cells and causes tissue and organ inflammation, joint and muscle pain, and fatigue. The ANA test may be positive with several autoimmune disorders including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), antiphospholipid syndrome, or Sjogren’s as common examples.
The Lymphocyte MAP™ is the newest advancement in screening of the immune system. It measures the integrity and balance of the immune system at the cellular level. This helps identify a patient’s immune status between 13 immunotypes, based on 28 key biomarkers and determinants.
The Lymphocyte MAP can:
- Help clarify the diagnosis of autoimmune diseases, immune deficiencies, allergies and hypersensitivities.
- Provide an invaluable picture of the underlying immune imbalances that trigger complex diseases.
- Evaluate environmental impacts on the immune system that may possibly result in a disease.
- Detect immune conditions sooner which, if not addressed, may cause overreaction (autoimmunity), or under-reaction (immune deficiencies) of the immune system.
The Lymphocyte MAP provides a wider view of the immune system and helps identify important correlations in disease conditions.