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Commentary

The role of IFN-gamma in systemic lupus erythematosus: a challenge to the Th1/Th2 paradigm in autoimmunity

Argyrios N Theofilopoulos*, Stefanos Koundouris, Dwight H Kono and Brian R Lawson

Author Affiliations

The Scripps Research Institute, Department of Immunology/IMM3, La Jolla, CA, USA

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Arthritis Res 2001, 3:136-141  doi:10.1186/ar290

Published: 14 February 2001

Abstract

The classification of T helper cells into type 1 (Th1) and type 2 (Th2) led to the hypothesis that Th1 cells and their cytokines (interleukin [IL]-2, interferon [IFN]-γ) are involved in cell-mediated autoimmune diseases, and that Th2 cells and their cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-13) are involved in autoantibody(humoral)-mediated autoimmune diseases. However, this paradigm has been refuted by recent studies in several induced and spontaneous mouse models of systemic lupus erythematosus, which showed that IFN-γ is a major effector molecule in this disease. These and additional findings, reviewed here, suggest that these two cross-talking classes of cytokines can exert autoimmune disease-promoting or disease-inhibiting effects without predictability or strict adherence to the Th1-versus-Th2 dualism.

Keywords:
cytokines; IFN-γ; lupus; Th1; Th2