Inflammatory cytokines in systemic lupus erythematosus

J Biomed Biotechnol. 2011;2011:432595. doi: 10.1155/2011/432595. Epub 2011 Oct 16.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease of unknown origin affecting virtually all organ systems. Beyond genetic and environmental factors, cytokine imbalances contribute to immune dysfunction, trigger inflammation, and induce organ damage. The key cytokine that is involved in SLE pathogenesis is interferon alpha. Interferon secretion is induced by immune complexes and leads to upregulation of several inflammatory proteins, which account for the so-called IFN signature that can be found in the majority of SLE PBMCs. Additionally IL-6 and IFN-y as well as T-cell-derived cytokines like IL-17, IL-21, and IL-2 are dysregulated in SLE. The latter induce a T-cell phenotype that is characterized by enhanced B-cell help and enhanced secretion of proinflammatory cytokines but reduced induction of suppressive T cells and activation-induced cell death. This paper will focus on these cytokines and highlights pathophysiological approaches and therapeutic potential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Interferons / immunology*
  • Interleukins / immunology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Mice


  • Interleukins
  • Interferons