The role of cytokines in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus – from bench to bedside

Authors

  • Desmond Yat Hin Yap,

    1. Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR
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  • Kar Neng Lai

    Corresponding author
    1. Nephrology Center, Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, Hong Kong SAR
    • Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR
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  • The authors declared no conflict of interest and received no financial support.

Correspondence:

Professor Kar Neng Lai, Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Email: knlai@hku.hk

Abstract

The pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) entails a complex interaction between the different arms of the immune system. While autoantibodies production and immune complex deposition are cornered as hallmark features of SLE, there is growing evidence to propose the pathogenic role of cytokines in this disease. Examples of these cytokines include BLys, interleukin-6, interleukin-17, interleukin-18, type I interferons and tumour necrosis factor alpha. These cytokines all assume pivotal functions to orchestrate the differentiation, maturation and activation of various cell types, which would mediate local inflammatory process and tissue injury. The knowledge on these cytokines not only fosters our understanding of the disease, but also provides insights in devising biomarkers and targeted therapies. In this review, we focus on cytokines which have substantial pathogenic significance and also highlight the possible clinical applications of these cytokines.

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