Remedial steps

Cutting Edge



Immune System Modulation

Polymyositis is usually considered an auto-immune disease. Simply put, this means the immune system has difficulty differentiating between self and non-self, between foreign invaders and healthy tissue. As a result the immune system may attack different parts of the body. In polymyositis the part attacked is the muscles.


Immunomodulation is the influencing of the immune system to either increase the attack against invaders or cancer cells, or to decrease the attack in the case of auto-immune disease. Immunomodulation is done naturally by the body by the training of nieve T cells through the bone marrow and the thymus. It is also reglated through the release of cytokines.

The study of cytokines is complex, and requires some understanding of cellular biology and even genetics to follow the papers explaining their actions and expression in disease. Nonetheless it is the expression of these cytokines that are often credited with the inflammation associated with IIM, and their expression is thought to trigger the attack on healthy tissue by the immune systems Tcells. Read more about cytokines...

A study in September 2010 shows that there may be a particular gene that influences the action of CD8+ T cells with reference to self tolerance. "... we delineate a CD8+ regulatory T cell lineage that is essential for maintenance of self tolerance and prevention of autoimmune disease."(Kim, Verbinne 2010) Inhibition of follicular T helper cells by CD8+ Treg is essential for self tolerance Nature. 2010 September 16; 467(7313): 328–332. doi:  10.1038/nature09370 found at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3395240/


The thymus is a part of the endocrine system, and its role in the modulation of the immune system is only partially understood. Nevertheless its study is one of the frontiers in the understanding of autoimmune disease. Click here to learn more about immunomodulation through the thymus.