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Trends Immunol. 2001 Aug;22(8):427-31.

An etiopathogenic role for the type I IFN system in SLE.

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  • 1Dept of Medical Sciences, Section of Rheumatology, University Hospital, S-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden. Lars.Ronnblom@medsci.uu.se


The type I interferon (IFN) system plays a pivotal role in the etiopathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The initial appearance of autoantibody-producing B cells can be precipitated by infection-induced type I IFNs, but the further, significant generation of autoimmune T and B cells is caused by the prolonged production of IFN-alpha, which is maintained by a vicious circle mechanism. This involves the activation of immature dendritic cells, known as natural IFN-producing cells, by continuously formed endogenous IFN-alpha inducers. These IFN-alpha inducers consist of complexes of autoantibodies with nucleic-acid-containing autoantigens derived from apoptotic cells.

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