Membrane Fluidity: About the Origin of Autoimmunity


Fluidity of cellular membranes is essential for life. Two possibilities are known to keep human membranes fluid: unsaturated fatty acids and cholesterol. Whereas liver cells can synthesize cholesterol, unsaturated fatty acids are essential. Life style in Western civilization leads to deprivation of essential fatty acids, to elevated serum-cholesterol-levels and to autoimmunity. Here the hypothesis is presented, and explains the relationship: deprivation of essential fatty acids lead to imminent quasi-crystallization of the membrane. Serum cholesterol-levels are elevated. Incorporation of cholesterol into membranes enhancing fluidity again, is able to repair the effect. At saturation, repair fails. Quasi-crystallization occurs. Proteins tilt into another conformation. This has not been learned during the “self” recognition process of the immune system during the embryonic phase. Immune system attacks the new conformation as “non-self”, autoimmunity emerges.

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Riede, I. (2014) Membrane Fluidity: About the Origin of Autoimmunity. Open Journal of Immunology, 4, 9-13. doi: 10.4236/oji.2014.41002.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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