Objectives: The type I interferon (IFN) system is important in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We previously demonstrated an inhibitory effect of IFNα on interleukin 6 (IL-6) induced C-reactive protein (CRP) in vitro, hypothetically explaining the poor correlation between disease activity and CRP levels in SLE. Herein we investigated disease activity, IL-6 and CRP in relation to a CRP gene polymorphism and IFNα
Methods: Sera from 155 SLE patients and 100 controls were analyzed for CRP. Patients were genotyped for a CRP single nucleotide polymorphism (rs1205) associated with low CRP levels. Serum IFNα and IL-6 was quantified by immunoassays. Clinical disease activity was assessed by SLE disease activity index 2000 (SLEDAI-2K).
Results: CRP levels were increased in SLE patients compared to controls, but were not associated with SLEDAI-2K or IL-6 levels. However, exclusion of patients carrying at least one rs1205 minor allele revealed an association between disease activity and CRP levels (p=0.005). We found a strong association between disease activity and CRP levels (p<0.0005) when patients with measurable IFNα as well as the minor allele of rs1205 where excluded from the analysis. Similarly, when patients with raised IFNα and/or the rs1205 polymorphism were excluded, IL-6 associated with CRP levels.
Conclusions: The present study demonstrates that serum IFNα as well as CRP genotype affects the CRP response in SLE patients. Lack of correlation between serum levels of CRP and disease activity could therefore be explained by activation of the type I IFN system and polymorphisms in the CRP gene.
2014. Vol. 66, no 6, 1568-1573 p.