Autoimmune Diseases: Genetics plus Triggers

Autoimmune diseases are caused by your body not recognizing your cells as ‘self’. It triggers an immune response that attacks your own cells.

Genetic susceptibility combines with environmental triggers in causing autoimmune diseases.

What are ‘environmental triggers’? They can be anything in your environment that tips your immune response into attacking your own cells.

Known triggers include:[ref]

  • Viruses (Epstein Barr, cytomegalovirus)
  • Toxin exposure (smoking, air pollution, vinyl chloride)[ref][ref]
  • Vaccines (Covid-19, Flu, HPV)[ref][ref]
  • Sleep disorders[ref]
  • Environmental conditions (cold, vibration)[ref]
  • Certain medications
  • Silicone breast implants[ref]
  • Heavy metals and environmental contaminants (mercury, arsenic)[ref][ref]

 


Specific Autoimmune Diseases

Alopecia Areata ↗

Symptoms: Autoimmune hair loss – either patchy or diffuse.

Genes: CTLA4, PTPN22, HLA, IL17F, IL17RA, IL18, IL2, MIF, TNF

Raynaud’s Syndrome ↗

Symptoms: Blue or white-tipped fingers (painful) when exposed to cold

Genes: NOS1, IL1B, INFG, TNF, HTR1B

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Main symptoms: Joint pain and inflammation

Genes: HLA, PTPN22, TRAF1, STAT4, CCR6, ANG2,

Psoriasis ↗

Main symptoms: Painfully cracked skin, inflamed scalp

Genes: HLA-C, HLA-B, IL23, PTPN22

Celiac Disease ↗

Main symptoms: gastrointestinal issues, nutrient deficiency

Genes: HLA-DQ2.5, HLA-DQ8

Lupus

Main symptoms: Joint pain, fatigue, butterfly rash on face

Genes: HLA, TNXB, BLK, TNF, STAT4, IRF5, IFR8

Meniere’s Disease ↗

Main symptoms: Ringing in the ears and vertigo

Genes: NFKB1, KCNE1, KCNE3, HRH4, IL1A

Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease ↗

Main symptoms: fatigue, feeling cold, weight gain, hair loss

Genes: TSHR, TPO, DIO1, DIO2, PTPN22

Chronic Fatigue and Long Covid ↗

Main symptoms: Fatigue, pain, brain fog, reduction in life quality

Genes: NLRP3, CTLA4, TNF, IFNG, TRPM8, TRPM3, CFB, CFH

 


Genes that impact autoimmune disease risk

HLA-B27 ↗

Related autoimmune diseases: ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, IBD, psoriasis

TNF-alpha ↗

Related autoimmune diseases: RA, psoriasis, celiac, ulcerative colitis, Hashimoto’s

IL-17

Related autoimmune diseases: psoriasis, Hashimoto’s, celiac, Rheumatoid Arthritis, IBD


About the Author:
Debbie Moon is the founder of Genetic Lifehacks. Fascinated by the connections between genes, diet, and health, her goal is to help you understand how to apply genetics to your diet and lifestyle decisions. Debbie has a BS in engineering and an MSc in biological sciences from Clemson University. Debbie combines an engineering mindset with a biological systems approach to help you understand how genetic differences impact your optimal health.