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Type I interferons have been suspected for decades to have a crucial role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Evidence has now overturned several long-held assumptions about how type I interferons are regulated and cause pathological conditions, providing a new view of SLE pathogenesis that resolves longstanding clinical dilemmas. This evidence includes data on interferons in relation to genetic predisposition and epigenetic regulation. Importantly, data are now available on the role of interferons in the early phases of the disease and the importance of non-haematopoietic cellular sources of type I interferons, such as keratinocytes, renal tubular cells, glial cells and synovial stromal cells, as well as local responses to type I interferons within these tissues. These local effects are found not only in inflamed target organs in established SLE, but also in histologically normal skin during asymptomatic preclinical phases, suggesting a role in disease initiation. In terms of clinical application, evidence relating to biomarkers to characterize the type I interferon system is complex, and, notably, interferon-blocking therapies are now licensed for the treatment of SLE. Collectively, the available data enable us to propose a model of disease pathogenesis that invokes the unique value of interferon-targeted therapies. Accordingly, future approaches in SLE involving disease reclassification and preventative strategies in preclinical phases should be investigated. © 2022. Springer Nature Limited.


Antonios Psarras, Miriam Wittmann, Edward M Vital. Emerging concepts of type I interferons in SLE pathogenesis and therapy. Nature reviews. Rheumatology. 2022 Oct;18(10):575-590

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PMID: 36097207

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