Prediction of Autoimmunity
Autoimmune reactions are relatively rare complications of immunotoxicity, even though growing concern was fuelled by recent epidemics, such as the Spanish toxic oil syndrome or the tryptophan-induced eosinophilia-fasciitis, which were both suggested to be caused by autoimmune mechanisms, and which resulted in many deaths and injured people. A recent survey of adverse reactions induced by medicinal products reported to the French postmarketing drug surveillance (Pharmacovigilance) system found that less than 0.5 per cent of recorded adverse reactions were considered as possible or likely lupus syndromes (Vial et al., 1997b). Autoimmune reactions to occupational chemicals and environmental pollutants seem to be still more rarely recorded, but no reliable data are actually available. A major difficulty when addressing the issue of predicting autoimmune reactions induced by medicinal products and other xenobiotics is the extremely limited understanding of fundamental mechanisms involved in autoimmunity.