Lupus-like autoimmune disease induced by interferon therapy for myeloproliferative disorders

Clin Immunol Immunopathol. 1992 Oct;65(1):70-4. doi: 10.1016/0090-1229(92)90250-r.


Symptoms of autoimmune disease were evaluated in 125 patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and in 12 patients with essential thrombocythemia undergoing treatment with recombinant interferon (IFN)-alpha-2b plus/minus low-dose recombinant IFN-gamma. Twenty-seven of 137 patients (20%) developed rheumatoid symptoms. Furthermore, the incidence of antinuclear antibody (ANA) formation was studied. Elevated ANA titers were found in 5/19 (26%) of CML patients at the time of diagnosis and in 3/18 (17%) of patients treated with hydroxyurea or busulfan. During IFN treatment, 18 of 25 tested patients (72%) had elevated ANA titers. In 15 of these ANA-positive patients, clinical signs of autoimmune disease appeared. All these patients were under long-term IFN treatment and were in remission of disease. In three patients criteria for systemic lupus erythematosus were fulfilled. Severity of side effects had led to the discontinuation of IFN treatment in these patients. The data indicate that IFN-alpha and IFN-gamma can induce ANA associated with autoimmune disease in patients with myeloproliferative disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / analysis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use
  • Interferon-gamma / therapeutic use
  • Interferons / adverse effects
  • Interferons / therapeutic use*
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / blood
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myeloproliferative Disorders / drug therapy*


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Interferons