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Introduction

Abstract In this chapter, we introduce the background of our study, followed by the research motivations and objectives. Then, we introduce the publicly available datasets used to evaluate our proposed methods. Finally, we summarize our contributions and give the structure of the report in the end.

Background

Clinical Problems: A Case Study on Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases (AD) occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissues, which can be organ-specific or systemic. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissue. It can also cause abnormal organ growth and changes in organ function. They are prevalent diseases affecting a large number of human beings. There are more than eighty different types of AD such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma and autoimmune hepatitis. The common autoimmune diseases are introduced as follows:

  • rheumatoid arthritis: chronic inflammation of joints and surrounding tissues;
  • systemic lupus erythematosus: affects skin, joints, kidneys, brain and other organs;
  • scleroderma: a connective tissue disease that causes changes in skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs;
  • sjogren’s syndrome: destroys the glands that produce tears and saliva causing dry eyes and mouth; may affect kidneys and lungs;
  • autoimmune hepatitis: causes inflammation and liver damage;
  • pernicious anemia: decrease in red blood cells caused by inability to absorb vitamin B-12;
  • vitiligo: white patches on the skin caused by loss of pigment;
  • psoriasis: a skin condition that causes redness and irritation as well as thick, flaky, silver-white patches;

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017 X. Xu et al., Cellular Image Classification, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-47629-2_1

Fig. 1.1 Patient with systemic lupus erythematosus (Courtesy of Google Images)

Patient with rheumatoid arthritis (Courtesy of Google Images)

Fig. 1.2 Patient with rheumatoid arthritis (Courtesy of Google Images)

  • inflammatory bowel diseases: a group of inflammatory diseases of the colon and small intestine;
  • Hashimoto’s disease: inflammation of the thyroid gland;
  • Addison’s disease: adrenal hormone insufficiency;
  • Graves’ disease: overactive thyroid gland;
  • reactive arthritis: inflammation of joints, urethra, and eyes; may cause sores on the skin and mucus membranes;
  • type 1 diabetes: autoimmune destruction of insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas.

For instance, Fig. 1.1 shows the patient with SLE showing inflammation and vasculitis, while Fig. 1.2 shows a hand of the patient with rheumatoid arthritis.

The cause of autoimmune disease is still not completely understood. There are many theories about what triggers autoimmune diseases including bacteria or virus, drugs, chemical irritants, environmental irritants, etc. The one whose family member with an AD will be more susceptible to developing one. ADs affect many parts of the body such as joints, muscles, skin, red blood cells, blood vessels, connective tissues and endocrine glands. Meanwhile, many of ADs have similar symptoms, which are fatigue, fever and general malaise. It makes them difficult to diagnose. Hence, ADs have high mortality rates.

 
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