The pleiotropic cytokine interferon alpha is involved in multiple aspects of lupus etiology and pathogenesis. Interferon alpha is important under normal circumstances for antiviral responses and immune activation. However, heightened levels of serum interferon alpha and expression of interferon response genes are common in lupus patients. Lupus-associated autoantibodies can drive the production of interferon alpha and heightened levels of interferon interfere with immune regulation. Several genes in the pathways leading to interferon production or signaling are associated with risk for lupus. Clinical and cellular manifestations of excess interferon alpha in lupus combined with the genetic risk factors associated with interferon make this cytokine a rare bridge between genetic risk and phenotypic effects. Interferon alpha influences the clinical picture of lupus and may represent a therapeutic target. This paper provides an overview of the cellular, genetic, and clinical aspects of interferon alpha in lupus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis