Self/non-self discrimination and unresponsiveness to self is the fundamental properties of the immune system. Self-tolerance is a state in which the individual is incapable of developing an immune response to an individual's own antigens and it underlies the ability to remain tolerant of individual's own tissue components. Several mechanisms have been postulated to explain the tolerant state. They can be broadly classified into two groups: central tolerance and peripheral tolerance. Several mechanisms exist, some of which are shared between T cells and B cells. In central tolerance, the recognition of self-antigen by lymphocytes in bone marrow or thymus during development is required, resulting in receptor editing (revision), clonal deletion, anergy or generation of regulatory T cells. Not all self-reactive B or T cells are centrally purged from the repertoire. Additional mechanisms of peripheral tolerance are required, such as anergy, suppression, deletion or clonal ignorance. Tolerance is antigen specific. Generating and maintaining the self-tolerance for T cells and B cells are complex. Failure of self-tolerance results in immune responses against self-antigens. Such reactions are called autoimmunity and may give rise to autoimmune diseases. Development of autoimmune disease is affected by properties of the genes of the individual and the environment, both infectious and non-infectious. The host's genes affect its susceptibility to autoimmunity and the environmental factors promote the activation of self-reactive lymphocytes, developing the autoimmunity. The changes in participating antigens (epitope spreading), cells, cytokines or other inflammatory mediators contribute to the progress from initial activation to a chronic state of autoimmune diseases.