Activation of type I interferon system in systemic lupus erythematosus correlates with disease activity but not with antiretroviral antibodies

Lupus. 2000;9(9):664-71. doi: 10.1191/096120300674499064.


The objective was to investigate the relation between serum levels of interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha), the activity of an endogenous IFN-alpha inducing factor (SLE-IIF), clinical and immunological disease activity as well as serum levels of antiretroviral antibodies in SLE. Serum levels of IFN-alpha were measured in serial sera from 30 patients sampled at different stages of disease activity (SLEDAI score). The SLE-IIF activity was measured by its ability to induce IFN-alpha production in cultures of normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Both serum IFN-alpha and SLE-IIF increased markedly at flare in serially followed patients. The SLEDAI score, levels of anti-dsDNA antibodies and IL-10 correlated positively, and complement components Clq, C3 and leukocytes correlated inversely with serum concentrations of IFN-alpha. The extent of multiple organ involvement correlated with serum IFN-alpha. No relation between concentrations of retroviral peptide binding antibodies and IFN-alpha or SLE-IIF activity was found. The close relationship between disease activity in SLE patients and IFN-alpha serum levels suggests that activation of the type 1 IFN system might be of importance in the disease process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endogenous Retroviruses / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon Inducers / blood
  • Interferon-alpha / blood*
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Retroviridae / immunology*
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Interferon Inducers
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Interleukin-10