How does age at onset influence the outcome of autoimmune diseases?
The age at onset refers to the time period at which an individual experiences the first symptoms of a disease. In autoimmune diseases (ADs), these symptoms can be subtle but are very relevant for diagnosis. They can appear during childhood, adulthood or late in life and may vary depending on the age at onset. Variables like mortality and morbidity and the role of genes will be reviewed with a focus on the major autoimmune disorders, namely, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1D), Sjögren's syndrome, and autoimmune thyroiditis (AITD). Early age at onset is a worst prognostic factor for some ADs (i.e., SLE and T1D), while for others it does not have a significant influence on the course of disease (i.e., SS) or no unanimous consensus exists (i.e., RA and MS).
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