Two common terms that come up very often with Hiddradenitis Suppurativa are autoinflammatory and autoimmunity. While autoimmunity and autoimmune diseases are more widely-known, autoinflammatory diseases and conditions have less information known about them and can sometimes be more difficult to diagnose. Both disease types share similar treatments, behaviors, and effects on the body, but understanding the key differences between both disease types help medical organizations and individuals with increased management and prevention.
Autoinflammatory (AIF) is different from autoimmunity where it mainly affects the innate immune system. The innate immune system is the body’s first line of defense. It is immediate and focuses on protecting nonspecific areas of the body. A key difference of autoinflammatory diseases are that they do not attack specific areas of the body. They are self-triggered meaning they do no respond to a specific virus from a known pre-existing condition, and at many times the body does not immediately respond to the condition which makes them difficult to identify.
The innate immune system consists of the outer and inner surfaces of the human body. Inflammation occurs due to specific surfaces, at many times directly on the skin, contracting infections. The body’s immune system will then move to that area and attack those cells causing the infection to spread instead of removing it.
Autoimmune diseases (AI) are characterized by dysfunction of the acquired immune system. The acquired (also known as adaptive) immune system is the body’s second line of defense. Unlike the innate immune system which acts immediately, the acquired immune system does not respond unless there is an infection that cannot be destroyed by the innate immune system. It is more accurate where the germ or infection must be identified first as it responds differently based on the infection type.
When the body develops an autoimmune disease, antibodies are formed that attack specific cells and organs directly. They are recognized as foreign entities and dealt with as any other disease or infection the body would normally fight off. One example of autoimmunity would be attacking the pancreas which is crucial to creating natural insulin. This is a typical and major cause for diabetes. In other cases autoimmune conditions may be systemic, meaning multiple parts of the body are affected at once.
To recap, autoimmunity refers to a malfunction in the acquired immune system and autoinflammatory refers to a malfunction in the innate immune system. Autoimmunity involves specific parts of the body being attacked in response to the body perceiving the areas as foreign. Different types of autoimmune diseases include diabetes, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease. Autoinflammatory involves attacking nonspecific parts of your body by mistake. The results of the disease can at most times lead to fevers, rashes, swelling, and serious blood buildup in various areas of your body.