Developments in the scientific understanding of lupus.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by the production of antinuclear antibodies (ANAs). Recent research into human and murine lupus suggests that disease susceptibility results from genetic polymorphisms regulating immune responses as well as impairing the clearance of apoptotic cells. Because the products of dead cells, including nucleic acids, have immunologic activity, this situation can promote antigen-driven ANA responses. Furthermore, immune complexes of ANAs can drive the production of proinflammatory cytokines, inducing the 'interferon signature', and intensifying disease. Together, these findings point to new genetic and immunologic markers of disease as well as targets for new therapies.
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