Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic and often progressive autoimmune disorder marked clinically by a variable constellation of symptoms including fatigue, rash, joint pains, and kidney damage. The lungs, heart, gastrointestinal system, and brain can also be impacted, and individuals with lupus are at higher risk for atherosclerosis, thrombosis, thyroid disease, and other disorders associated with chronic inflammation . Autoimmune diseases are marked by erroneous immune responses in which the target of the immune response is a "self"-antigen, or autoantigen, driven by the development of antigen-specific B or T cells that have overcome the normal systems of self-tolerance built into the development of B and T cells. SLE is specifically characterized by the production of autoantibodies against nucleic acids and their binding proteins, including anti-double stranded DNA, anti-Smith (an RNA binding protein), and many others . These antibodies bind their nuclear-derived antigens to form immune complexes that cause injury and scarring through direct deposition in tissues and activation of innate immune cells . In over 50% of SLE patients, immune complex aggregation in the kidneys drives intrarenal inflammation and injury and leads to lupus nephritis, a progressive destruction of the glomeruli that is one of the most common causes of lupus-related death . To counter this pathology increasing attention has turned to developing approaches to reduce the development and continued generation of such autoantibodies. In particular, the molecular and cellular events that lead to long term, continuous activation of such autoimmune responses have become the focus of new therapeutic strategies to limit renal and other pathologies in lupus patients. The focus of this review is to consider how the innate immune system is involved in the development and progression of lupus nephritis and how a novel approach to inhibit innate immune activation by neutralizing the activators of this response, called Damage Associated Molecular Patterns, may represent a promising approach to treat this and other autoimmune disorders.
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