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J Immunol. 2004 Aug 1;173(3):2134-42.

Type I IFN protects against murine lupus.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine , Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Both the type I (IFN-alpha beta) and type II (IFN-gamma) IFNs have been heavily implicated in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus. To test the relative roles of these systems, congenic lupus-prone MRL/CD95(lpr/lpr) (MRL/lpr) mice lacking the type I IFN receptor (IFN-RI), type II IFN receptor (IFN-RII), or both, were derived. As expected, deficiency for IFN-RII protected MRL/lpr mice from the development of significant autoimmune-associated lymphadenopathy, autoantibodies, and renal disease. However, deficiency for the IFN-RI surprisingly worsened lymphoproliferation, autoantibody production, and end organ disease; animals doubly deficient for IFN-RI and IFN-RII developed an autoimmune phenotype intermediate between wild-type and IFN-RII-deficient animals, all correlating with an ability of type I IFN to suppress MRL B cell activation. Thus, type I IFNs protect against both the humoral and end organ autoimmune syndrome of MRL/lpr mice, independent of IFN-gamma. These findings warrant caution in the use of type I IFN antagonists in the treatment of autoimmune diseases and suggest further investigation into the interplay between the types I and II IFNs during the ontogeny of pathogenic autoantibodies.

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