On the Prevalence of Autoimmune Disease Markers in a Working Population and its Relationship to Wellness
Keywords:autoimmune disease, autoimmunity, wellness visit, lifestyle, diet
Background: Autoimmune disease prevalence is rising at an increasing rate. However, little research currently exists on pre-screenings for autoimmunity and early disease management. We propose wellness visits should include an autoimmune disease panel screening for autoantibodies at preclinical and clinical levels.
Methods: A working population of individuals without formally diagnosed autoimmune disease underwent company-sponsored wellness visits. Wellness markers such as blood pressure and lipid measurements and an autoantibody panel were obtained during the visits. Participants were offered functional medicine information afterwards.
Results: Seventy-eight participants completed the visits. One or more wellness marker “abnormalities” were seen in 97% (76/78) of participants. Each wellness marker’s frequency of abnormality ranged from 13–82% of the participants. Preclinical or clinical autoantibody levels were seen in 53% (41/78) of the “healthy” working population with no previous autoimmune disease diagnoses. Preclinical markers were seen in 21% (16/78)
of participants and clinical markers were seen in 32% (25/78) of participants. At least one wellness screening abnormality was seen in 98% (40/41) of participants with positive autoantibody findings. At least 50% of participants with a specific wellness abnormality tested at the higher “clinically” significant autoantibody levels.
Conclusion: Preliminary findings from this study suggest that the integration of an autoantibody panel in wellness visits may be beneficial. Individuals may also consider healthier living practices and proactive prevention of autoimmune disease pathogenesis through applications of functional medicine and therapeutic lifestyle change. Clinical marker findings in asymptomatic individuals raises a limitation in the usefulness of such a panel, and further research such as a placebo-controlled prospective cohort study with an intervention trial or serial testing of autoantibody prevalence is needed.