Induction of dendritic cell differentiation by IFN-α in systemic lupus erythematosus
Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic
Dendritic cells (DCs) are important in regulating both immunity and tolerance. Hence, we hypothesized that systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease characterized by autoreactive B and T cells, may be caused by alterations in the functions of DCs. Consistent with this, monocytes from SLE patients' blood were found to function as antigen-presenting cells, in vitro. Furthermore, serum from SLE patients induced normal monocytes to differentiate into DCs. These DCs could capture antigens from dying cells and present them to CD4-positive T cells. The capacity of SLE patients' serum to induce DC differentiation correlated with disease activity and depended on the actions of interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha). Thus, unabated induction of DCs by IFN-alpha may drive the autoimmune response in SLE.