Infectomics and autoinfectomics: a tool to study infectious-induced autoimmunity
The exposome represents all exogenous and endogenous environmental exposures that begin at preconception and carry on throughout life, while the microbiome reflects the microbial component of the exposome. We recently introduced the concept of infectome and autoinfectome as a means of studying the totality of infections throughout life that participate in the induction as well as the progression of autoimmune diseases in an affected individual. The investigation of the autoinfectome could help us understand why some patients develop more than one autoimmune disease, a phenomenon also known as mosaic of autoimmunity. It could also explain the infectious and autoantibody burden of various autoimmune rheumatic diseases. The close interplay between infections and the immune system should be studied over time, long before the onset of autoaggression and autoimmunity. Tracking down each individual's exposure to infectious agents (as defined by the autoinfectome) would be important for the establishment of a causative link between infection and autoimmunity.