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J Immunol. 2008 Apr 1;180(7):5101-8.

A novel type I IFN-producing cell subset in murine lupus.

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  • 1Division of Rheumatology & Clinical Immunology and Center for Autoimmune Disease, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610-0221, USA.


Excess type I IFNs (IFN-I) have been linked to the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Therapeutic use of IFN-I can trigger the onset of SLE and most lupus patients display up-regulation of a group of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). Although this "IFN signature" has been linked with disease activity, kidney involvement, and autoantibody production, the source of IFN-I production in SLE remains unclear. 2,6,10,14-Tetramethylpentadecane-induced lupus is at present the only model of SLE associated with excess IFN-I production and ISG expression. In this study, we demonstrate that tetramethylpentadecane treatment induces an accumulation of immature Ly6C(high) monocytes, which are a major source of IFN-I in this lupus model. Importantly, they were distinct from IFN-producing dendritic cells (DCs). The expression of IFN-I and ISGs was rapidly abolished by monocyte depletion whereas systemic ablation of DCs had little effect. In addition, there was a striking correlation between the numbers of Ly6C(high) monocytes and the production of lupus autoantibodies. Therefore, immature monocytes rather than DCs appear to be the primary source of IFN-I in this model of IFN-I-dependent lupus.

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