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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2005 Nov;16(11):3264-72. Epub 2005 Oct 12.

Interferon-beta: a therapeutic for autoimmune lupus in MRL-Faslpr mice.

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  • 1First Department of Medicine, Johannes-Gutenberg University of Mainz, Langenbeckstrasse 1, Mainz 55131, Germany.


Type I interferons are associated with lupus. Genes that are regulated by IFN-alpha are upregulated in pediatric lupus patients. Gene deletion of the IFN-alpha/beta receptor in experimental lupus-like NZB mice results in reduced disease activity. Conversely, IFN-beta is a well-established treatment in multiple sclerosis, another autoimmune disease. For determining whether IFN-beta treatment is harmful or beneficial in lupus, MRL-Fas(lpr) mice were injected with this type I IFN. Treatment was initiated in MRL-Fas(lpr) mice with mild and advanced disease. IFN-beta was highly effective in prolonging survival and ameliorating the clinical (renal function, proteinuria, splenomegaly, and skin lesions), serologic (autoantibodies and cytokines), and histologic parameters of the lupus-like disease in mice that had mild and advanced disease. Several underlying mechanisms of IFN-beta therapy involving cellular (decreased T cell proliferation and infiltration of leukocytes into the kidney) and humoral (decrease in IgG3 isotypes) immune responses and a reduction in nephrogenic cytokines were identified. In conclusion, IFN-beta treatment of lupus nephritis in MRL-Fas(lpr) mice is remarkably beneficial and suggests that IFN-beta may be an appealing therapeutic candidate for subtypes of human lupus.

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