Enhanced Inflammasome Activity in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Is Mediated via Type I Interferon-Induced Up-Regulation of Interferon Regulatory Factor 1.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Arthritis Rheumatol, Volume 69, Issue 9, p.1840-1849 (2017)


Adult, asb, Case-Control Studies, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, Female, Humans, Inflammasomes, Interferon Regulatory Factor-1, Interferon Type I, Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic, Male, Middle Aged, Monocytes, Prospective Studies, Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction, Up-Regulation


<strong>OBJECTIVE: </strong>The inflammasome complex is a driver of organ damage in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Although type I interferons (IFNs) are well established as mediators of SLE pathogenesis, their role in inflammasome activation in SLE has not been assessed. The aim of this study was to examine type I IFNs as regulators of the inflammasome.

<strong>METHODS: </strong>SLE patients fulfilled ≥4 American College of Rheumatology criteria and were recruited from the University of Michigan Lupus Cohort. Primary monocytes were isolated from SLE patients or healthy controls by negative selection, treated with inflammasome activators in the presence or absence of IFNα, and IL-1β secretion was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Expression levels of IFN and inflammasome-related molecules were assessed by real-time polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting. IFN regulatory factor 1 (IRF-1) expression was specifically down-regulated by small interfering RNA (siRNA) transfection and a chemical inhibitor.

<strong>RESULTS: </strong>Monocytes from patients with SLE exhibited increased expression and enhanced activation of the inflammasome by ATP when compared with control monocytes. Expression of inflammasome and IFN-regulated genes was significantly correlated in monocytes from SLE patients but not in control monocytes. Inflammasome activity was increased after prolonged exposure to IFNα. Reduction of IRF-1 expression via siRNA blocked caspase 1 up-regulation after treatment with IFNα. Importantly, hyperactivity of the inflammasome in the monocytes of SLE patients was significantly reduced after knockdown or inhibition of IRF-1.

<strong>CONCLUSION: </strong>Prolonged type I IFN exposure, as seen in SLE patients, primes monocytes for robust inflammasome activation in an IRF-1-dependent manner. IRF-1 inhibition may serve as a novel target for treatment of SLE-associated inflammation and organ damage.