Systemic lupus erythematosus arising during interferon-alpha therapy for cryoglobulinemic vasculitis associated with hepatitis C

Clin Rheumatol. 2005 Apr;24(2):178-81. doi: 10.1007/s10067-004-1024-2. Epub 2004 Nov 24.


We present the case of a 53-year-old woman who developed systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) after being treated with interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) for cryoglobulinemic vasculitis associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Her cryoglobulinemic vasculitis resolved rapidly with IFN-alpha treatment. However, after 10 months of IFN-alpha therapy, she developed a photosensitive malar rash, oral ulcers, arthralgias, lymphopenia, and anti-SSA autoantibodies. She was diagnosed with SLE induced by IFN-alpha therapy. IFN-alpha was discontinued, she was treated with a short course of prednisone and hydroxychloroquine, and she improved rapidly. This is the first report of IFN-alpha-induced SLE complicating treatment of cryoglobulinemic vasculitis associated with HCV infection. The development of SLE during therapy with IFN-alpha could be due to direct immunomodulation by IFN-alpha, and review of experimental data and prior case reports suggests a pathogenic role for IFN-alpha in SLE.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cryoglobulinemia / drug therapy*
  • Cryoglobulinemia / virology
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / complications*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / adverse effects*
  • Immunologic Factors / immunology
  • Interferon-alpha / adverse effects*
  • Interferon-alpha / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / chemically induced*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Vasculitis / drug therapy*
  • Vasculitis / virology


  • Immunologic Factors
  • Interferon-alpha