Systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases are of complex aetiology, characterized by an intricate interplay of various factors. A myriad of genes lies behind the heterogeneous manifestations of these diseases, and the overexpression and repression of particular genes form a specific gene-expression profile (genetic fingerprints) that is characteristic to the given disease phenotype. Besides the description of various cell types by using gene-expression profiling, the data should be directly applicable to the design of individual therapeutic protocols for patients suffering from various autoimmune diseases. In this review, we summarize the gene-expression profile, various genetic signatures of different autoimmune diseases and give an overview on the possible interpretations of the data. The application of recent breakthroughs in high-throughput molecular profiling technologies, such as microarray technology has been the basis for a revolution in biomedical research, as well as diagnostics and pharmaceutical development. It is easy to envision a day when personalized medicine, which is the diagnosis and treatment of a given patient with agents and procedures tailored to that patient's genetics, physiology and pathology, will become the standard of care.
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