Thursday, December 19, 2013
My impression is that Hashimoto's is caused by a combination of an initial immune attack on the thyroid and incompetent regulatory T cells. In most cases the immune attack on the thyroid is a secondary consequence of celiac/gluten intolerance, in which anti-transglutaminase antibodies attack transglutaminase bound to gluten in the intestines. Transglutaminase is an enzyme that is also produced by the thyroid (and hair follicles) and attack by celiac antibodies can enhance or inhibit thyroid hormone production (or baldness.) Both Hashimoto's and celiac do not occur if the suppressive part of the immune system, i.e. regulatory T cells, is functioning.
Antibiotics Compromise the Immune System
The major point here is that antibiotics disrupt normal bacterial biofilms that line the intestines and these healthy gut bacteria are required for development of regulatory T cells. Compromise of Tregs leads to autoimmune diseases, e.g. celiac, Hashimoto’s and baldness, and also allergies.
Antigens/Allergens Have Basic Amino Acid Triplets
The antigens targeted in autoimmune diseases, e.g. tTG, anti-nuclear, TPO, and allergies form an obvious pattern. All of these antigens and allergens have simple amino acid sequences (rare patches of three basic/positively charged amino acids) that enhance their presentation to the immune system to produce antibodies. Nuclear proteins, for example, are frequent autoantigens and most of these proteins interact with nucleic acids (negatively charged) and have predictable patches of positively charged amino acids (arginine and lysine). Other common autoantigens have basic amino acid (arg/lys) patches, because they interact with phospholipids (also negatively charged.) Proteins with basic patches, e.g. HIV-TAT or heparanase, are also readily transported into cells and nuclei. Peptides with these sequences are produced by action of stomach enzymes on proteins, e.g. milk lactoferrin, and are antimicrobial.
Allergies / Autoimmune Diseases Are a Predictable Consequence of Antibiotics
Doctors treat with antibiotics, but they fail to repair damage that they cause to gut flora. The gut flora of most patients treated with antibiotics, especially those who are most fastidiously hygienic, never fully recover. Constipation is a common symptom of severe dysbiosis and related immunoincompetence. Probiotics are gut flora bandaids and do not survive as components of gut flora.
Gut bacteria are also needed for development of the aggressive part of the immune system. Thus, autoimmune diseases can be treated with even more intense use of antibiotics, that will eliminate the rest of the immune system. Since all vitamins are produced by gut flora as quorum sensing signals, antibiotics can also produce the exotic symptoms of vitamin deficiencies.
Antibiotics are essential to many therapeutic approaches, e.g. surgical procedures or therapy for chronic Lyme disease, but they must be used responsibly and treated patients must be subsequently tested to ensure a repaired gut flora and a functional immune system have been reestablished after antibiotics. Long term antibiotic use needs special attention, e.g. deliberate Repair of Gut Flora or a fecal transplant.
Thus, I think that it is most likely that ever increasing antibiotic exposure and processed foods, coupled with obsessive hygiene have led to crippled gut flora (as observed in the simplified gut microbiomes of Americans), a net decline in suppressive Tregs and the observed increase of autoimmunity and allergies. The competence of the immune system may be a major determinant in the course of infection with a pathogen that can produce chronic infections.