The emerging role of interferon in human systemic lupus erythematosus

Curr Opin Immunol. 2004 Dec;16(6):801-7. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2004.09.014.


Recent studies of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, together with data from lupus-prone mice, suggest that inappropriate activation of type I interferon might have a role in disease pathogenesis. Serum levels of IFN-alpha are elevated in SLE patients, and gene expression profiling of peripheral blood cells shows that most lupus cases demonstrate an upregulation of IFN-responsive genes. Of interest, the IFN gene 'signature' correlates with more severe disease. The available data support a model whereby chromatin-containing immune complexes circulating in the blood of lupus patients stimulate leukocytes to produce IFN, which perpetuates disease. These emerging insights into the connection between IFN and lupus provide a host of new diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Interferon Type I / metabolism
  • Interferons / metabolism*
  • Leukocytes / metabolism
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis


  • Interferon Type I
  • Interferons