Over the recent years the wider availability and application of state-of-the-art immunological technologies greatly advanced the insight into the mechanisms that play an important role in axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) pathophysiology. This increased understanding has facilitated the development of novel treatments that target disease relevant pathways, hereby improving outcome for axSpA patients. In axSpA pathophysiology genetic and environmental factors as well as immune activation by mechanical or bacterial stress resulting in a chronic inflammatory response have a central role. The TNF and IL-23/IL-17 immune pathways play a pivotal role in these disease mechanisms. This review provides an outline of the immunological basis of axSpA with a focus on key genetic risk factors and their link to activation of the pathological immune response, as well as on the role of the gut and entheses in the initiation of inflammation with subsequent new bone formation in axSpA.
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