Higher activation of the interferon-gamma signaling pathway in systemic lupus erythematosus patients with a high type I IFN score: relation to disease activity
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Increased IFN-γ levels have been associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). However, the relationships among IFN-γ, type I interferons (IFNs) and clinical features have not been extensively studied. Peripheral blood samples from 44 SLE patients and 36 healthy donors (HDs) were collected. Quantitative real-time PCR was used to assess the mRNA expression of IFNG, type II IFN-inducible genes (IRF1, GBP1, CXCL9, CXCL10, and SERPING1, which are used for the type II IFN score), type I IFN-inducible genes (IRF7, MX1, ISG15, and ISG20, which are used for the type I IFN score), TBX21, and EOMES in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Flow cytometry was used to measure the IFN-γ levels in lymphocytes. The mRNA levels of type II IFN-inducible genes, IFNG, TBX21, and EOMES were significantly higher in SLE patients than those in HDs. Similarly, the percentages of IFN-γ-producing cells in lymphocytes and their subsets in SLE patients were significantly increased. Linear regression indicated that IFNG expression levels and type II IFN scores were positively correlated with anti-double-stranded DNA autoantibody levels and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) scores. Compared with patients with low type I IFN scores, patients with high type I IFN scores showed increased type II IFN scores and SLEDAI scores. Type II IFN scores were positively associated with type I IFN scores. The IFN-γ signaling pathway is activated in SLE patients and may be considered an index of disease activity. IFN-γ, together with type I IFNs, promotes the pathogenesis of SLE.
KeywordsDisease activity EOMES Interferon-gamma Interferon-inducible genes Systemic lupus erythematosus TBX21
This research was supported by the grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31470854) and Pujiang Talents Plan (16PJ1405600).
Compliance with ethical standards
The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Xin Hua Hospital and was performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants.
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