au·​to·​im·​mune | \ ˌȯ-tō-im-ˈyün How to pronounce autoimmune (audio) \

Definition of autoimmune

: of, relating to, or caused by autoantibodies or T cells that attack molecules, cells, or tissues of the organism producing them autoimmune diseases

Other Words from autoimmune

autoimmunity \ ˌȯ-​tō-​im-​ˈyü-​nə-​tē How to pronounce autoimmune (audio) \ noun
autoimmunization \ ˌȯ-​tō-​ˌim-​yə-​nə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce autoimmune (audio) also  -​im-​ˌyü-​ \ noun

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Any healthy body produces a variety of antibodies, proteins in the blood whose job is to protect the body from unwanted bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. The cells and organs that deal with such infections make up the immune system. In some people and animals, for various reasons, the antibodies become overactive and turn on the body's healthy tissues as well; the result is an autoimmune disease—an immune response directed against one's own self. More than eighty autoimmune diseases have been identified, the best-known being type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Examples of autoimmune in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Experts have long theorized that some previous infection may trigger that autoimmune response. NBC News, 16 Mar. 2022 Pleasure’s lab also tested her spinal fluid, which revealed the anti-neural antibodies that appeared to be attacking her brain, an autoimmune response. Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 Oct. 2021 There are a handful of autoimmune diseases that can cause chronic hives. New York Times, 9 May 2022 Hepatitis, or swelling of the liver, can be caused by infections, autoimmune diseases, drugs and toxins. Brenda Goodman, CNN, 6 May 2022 Jim didn’t have any of the conditions, like lupus or other autoimmune diseases, that usually cause alveolar hemorrhage. Judi Ketteler, Good Housekeeping, 24 Apr. 2022 Common causes of hepatitis, such as toxic chemicals, autoimmune disorders and viruses that cause chickenpox and the common cold, have been ruled out in the Alabama and U.K. children. Stephanie H. Murray, The Week, 26 Apr. 2022 In higher concentrations, they’ve been associated with an array of health problems, including several cancers, autoimmune disorders and fertility challenges. Lydia Depillis, ProPublica, 31 Mar. 2022 And while genetics play a factor into the disorder—people with alopecia are more likely to have family members with alopecia and other autoimmune disorders—so do grooming and hairstyling practices. Amiah Taylor, Fortune, 29 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'autoimmune.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of autoimmune

1952, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of autoimmune was in 1952

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Last Updated

27 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Autoimmune.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for autoimmune


au·​to·​im·​mune | \ -im-ˈyün How to pronounce autoimmune (audio) \

Medical Definition of autoimmune

: of, relating to, or caused by antibodies or T cells that attack molecules, cells, or tissues of the organism producing them autoimmune diseases

More from Merriam-Webster on autoimmune

Britannica English: Translation of autoimmune for Arabic Speakers


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