Diseases Home > Causes of Behcet's Disease

The exact causes of Behcet's disease have yet to be discovered. Most symptoms are caused by inflammation of the blood vessels. Therefore, doctors and research scientists believe that genetics and the environment could possibly be two causes of Behcet's disease.

Causes of Behcet's Disease: An Overview

Doctors are not sure of the causes of Behcet's disease. They do, however, know that nearly all of the symptoms of Behcet's disease are due to an inflammation of the blood vessels, but they aren't sure what causes this inflammation. They also know that Behcet's disease is not contagious, meaning it is not spread from one person to another.

Causes of Behcet's Disease: Inflammation

Most symptoms of Behcet's disease are caused by inflammation of the blood vessels. Inflammation is a characteristic reaction of the body to injury or disease, and is marked by these four signs:
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Heat
  • Pain.
Doctors think that an autoimmune reaction may cause the blood vessels to become inflamed, but they do not know what triggers this reaction. Under normal conditions, the immune system protects the body from diseases and infections by killing harmful "foreign" substances, such as germs, that enter the body. In an autoimmune reaction, the immune system mistakenly attacks and harms the body's own tissues.

Genetics and the Environment as Causes of Behcet's Disease

Behcet's disease research scientists believe that there are two factors that affect whether or not a person will get Behcet's disease. First, it is believed that abnormalities of the immune system make some people susceptible to the condition. Scientists think that this susceptibility may be inherited; that is, it may be due to one or more specific genes. Second, something in the environment, possibly a a bacterium or virus, might trigger or activate the disease in susceptible people.
Some people may have inherited (passed on from parent to child) a problem with the immune system that can make them more likely to develop Behcet's disease. For these people, contact with substances in the environment, such as bacteria or viruses, may cause the immune system to attack the blood vessels.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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