Decreased ex vivo production of interferon-gamma is associated with severity and poor prognosis in patients with lupus

Sung Soo Ahn, Eun Seong Park, Joo Sung Shim, Sang Jun Ha, Beom Seok Kim, Seung Min Jung, Sang Won Lee, Yong Beom Park, Jason Jungsik Song

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Lupus pathogenesis is closely associated with interferon gamma (IFN-γ), which plays a central role in innate and adaptive immunity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the ex vivo production of IFN-γ after stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with phytohemagglutinin (PHA) in patients with lupus, according to disease activity. Methods: This study included 118 patients with lupus who had undergone IFN-γ-releasing assays (IGRAs) to screen for tuberculosis. Data on IFN-γ production in negative (nil) and positive (mitogen with PHA) controls were collected and analysed. The difference (mitogen minus nil) was used to calculate ex vivo IFN-γ production. Disease activity was evaluated using the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index 2000 (SLEDAI-2 K). Poor hospitalisation outcome was defined as in-hospital mortality or intensive care unit admission. Associations among disease activity, poor hospitalisation outcome, and ex vivo IFN-γ production were assessed. Results: The level of ex vivo IFN-γ production was significantly lower in patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) (n = 64) than in those with inactive SLE (n = 54) (median 0.92 vs. 11.06 IU/mL, p < 0.001). Ex vivo IFN-γ production was correlated with the SLEDAI-2 K (r = - 0.587, p < 0.001). Results of multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that ex vivo IFN-γ production ≤ 7.19 IU/mL was an independent predictor for discriminating active and inactive lupus. In addition, patients with ex vivo IFN-γ production ≤ 0.40 IU/mL had more frequent poor hospitalisation outcomes than those with ex vivo IFN-γ production > 0.40 (40.0% vs. 9.3%, p = 0.001). The proportion of indeterminate IGRA results was higher in patients with active lupus than in those with inactive lupus (45.3% vs. 0.0%, p < 0.001) because of decreased ex vivo IFN-γ production. Conclusions: Ex vivo IFN-γ production is a useful biomarker for assessing disease activity and predicting poor clinical outcomes of SLE.

Original languageEnglish
Article number193
JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Aug 25

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Basic Science Research Programme (2015R1C1A1A01053140) through the National Research Foundation of Korea, and funded by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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