Immune complexes are formed when antigens bind to antibodies. If not excessive, and assuming a healthy immune response, these complexes are usually cleared from the circulation by the phagocytic system. These responses are usually delayed, occurring hours or even days after exposure to the antigen, from whatever source. When these complexes persist in the circulation, their interaction with platelets results in the release of vasoactive amines. Vasoactive amines cause increased vessel permeability, platelet aggregation (clotting) and initiation of the arachidonic acid cascade (inflammation). These immune complexes can also settle out within the postcapillary venules, with subsequent tissue inflammation, irritation and damage by complement activation, more inflammatory cells coming to the area and destructive lysosomal enzyme release.
Vasculitis can cause many different symptoms, depending upon what tissues are involved and the severity of the tissue damage. Some patients are not ill and only notice occasional spots on their skin. Others are very ill with systemic symptoms and major organ damage. A list of symptoms based on the tissues in which vasculitis occurs include:
Treatment revolves around the removal or reduction of circulating immune complexes, dampening down the inflammatory response, stabilizing lysosomal cell membranes and improving circulation to damaged tissues.
Sometimes drugs, hidden infections and food allergens increase the level of circulating immune complexes. Exposure to these should be reduced. Avoid temperature extremes, as cold can precipitate immune complexes.
In the vasculitis caused by lupus, the antigens causing the immune complexes are often not known. In some cases, the complexes contain DNA and anti-DNA antigens, or Ro (also called SS-A) and anti-Ro antigens. Another antibody, ANCA (anti-neutrophil cytoplasm antibody), can cause vasculitis in some individuals.
Decreasing circulating immune complexes may be accelerated by breaking them down with the use of trypsin, chymotrypsin and pancreatin. These enzymes must be given at least one hour before meals. One of the basic concepts in systemic enzyme therapy is that all kinds of inflammatory processes respond to enzymes. Hydrolytic enzymes directly attack the microclots breaking open the clogged vessels and reestablishing circulation. By restoring normal blood flow, post inflammatory pain and edema are reduced more rapidly.
A membrane's lipid bilayers are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids which are subject to oxidation. Vitamin E's function in maintaining membrane integrity might be attributed to its prevention of the membrane damage. It has been hypothesized vitamin E protects the lysosomal membranes from rupturing and destroying the cells.
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