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Leucocyte subset-specific type 1 interferon signatures in SLE and other immune-mediated diseases.

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Jovanovic, Vojislav 
Teo, Boon Wee 
Mak, Anselm 
Thumboo, Julian 


OBJECTIVES: Type 1 interferons (IFN-1) are implicated in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but most studies have only reported the effect of IFN-1 on mixed cell populations. We aimed to define modules of IFN-1-associated genes in purified leucocyte populations and use these as a basis for a detailed comparative analysis. METHODS: CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, monocytes and neutrophils were purified from patients with SLE, other immune-mediated diseases and healthy volunteers and gene expression then determined by microarray. Modules of IFN-1-associated genes were defined using weighted gene coexpression network analysis. The composition and expression of these modules was analysed. RESULTS: 1150 of 1288 IFN-1-associated genes were specific to myeloid subsets, compared with 11 genes unique to T cells. IFN-1 genes were more highly expressed in myeloid subsets compared with T cells. A subset of neutrophil samples from healthy volunteers (HV) and conditions not classically associated with IFN-1 signatures displayed increased IFN-1 gene expression, whereas upregulation of IFN-1-associated genes in T cells was restricted to SLE. CONCLUSIONS: Given the broad upregulation of IFN-1 genes in neutrophils including in some HV, investigators reporting IFN-1 signatures on the basis of whole blood samples should be cautious about interpreting this as evidence of bona fide IFN-1-mediated pathology. Instead, specific upregulation of IFN-1-associated genes in T cells may be a useful biomarker and a further mechanism by which elevated IFN-1 contributes to autoimmunity in SLE.



Autoimmunity, Cytokines, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

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Medical Research Council (MC_PC_12012)
Wellcome Trust (094227/Z/10/Z)
Wellcome Trust (083650/Z/07/Z)
Medical Research Council (MR/L019027/1)
Wellcome Trust (079895/Z/06/B)
Wellcome Trust (104064/Z/14/Z)
SMF holds a Translational Medicine and Therapeutics PhD studentship from the Wellcome Trust and GlaxoSmithKline and has also received funding for this work from the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust. KGCS is the Khoo Oon Teik Professor of Nephrology, National University of Singapore. Singapore recruitment was supported by the Khoo Investigator Grant from the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore, and by National Medical Research Council of Singapore grants (NMRC/1164/2008 and IRG07nov089). This work was also supported by UK National Institute of Health Research Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, the Lupus Research Institute (Distinguished Innovator Award, KGCS), the Medical Research Council UK (programme grant MR/L019027/1) and the Wellcome Trust (programme grant 083650/Z/07/Z and project grant 094227/Z/10/Z). The Cambridge Institute for Medical Research is in receipt of Wellcome Trust Strategic Award 079895.