Characterization of Type-I IFN subtype autoantibodies and activity in SLE serum and urine

Academic Article


  • Background/objective: Type-I interferons contribute to pathogenesis in systemic lupus erythematosus, including nephritis. Interferons consist of a family of 16 proteins yet are often characterized in patients without knowledge of the specific interferon subtypes involved. Different interferons may function in the kidneys, and other organs, relative to what is often measured in patient blood. Moreover, antibodies to interferons may potentially modulate systemic or organ-specific interferon activity. The aim of this study was to characterize global interferon activity levels and identify autoantibodies to the 12 interferon α subtypes in patient serum and urine. Methods: Interferon activity levels in serum and urine were measured using an interferon bioassay. Anti-interferon and anti-cytokine autoantibodies were measured by ELISA. Serum and urine samples were also characterized for their ability to neutralize the biological activity of exogenously added interferons. Results: Serum interferon activity was increased in 62% of systemic lupus erythematosus patient samples, relative to healthy donor controls, whereas binding interferon α autoantibodies to at least one interferon α subtype were found in 68% of the samples evaluated. High Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index scores were significantly (p = 0.001) associated with patient samples containing interferon α autoantibodies to three or more interferon α subtypes in their serum. Interferon α autoantibodies that potently block interferon activity were rare (∼5% of samples), but collectively bound to all 12 interferon α subtypes. Urine interferon activity and interferon α autoantibody profiles did not correlate with their serum counterparts, suggesting immune responses in systemic lupus erythematosus kidneys can be distinct from those measured in serum. Analysis of autoantibodies to 15 additional cytokines in serum identified higher frequencies of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin 17A autoantibodies, suggesting these signaling pathways may potentially contribute, with interferons, to systemic lupus erythematosus pathogenesis. Conclusions: The measurement of autoantibodies to multiple interferon subtypes in serum and urine may provide an alternative method for following interferon-mediated systemic lupus erythematosus disease activity. The results suggest autoantibodies might be used for patient monitoring and/or identifying additional cytokine signaling pathways that are functioning in different systemic lupus erythematosus patients.
  • Published In

  • Lupus  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Harris BD; Kuruganti S; Deshpande A; Goepfert PA; Chatham WW; Walter MR
  • Start Page

  • 1095
  • End Page

  • 1105
  • Volume

  • 29
  • Issue

  • 9