Abstract Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects many different organ systems, with excessive production of type I interferons (IFNs) and autoantibodies against nucleic acids as hallmarks. Activation of the type I IFN system in SLE is due to continuous stimulation of plasmacytoid dendritic cells by endogenous nucleic acids, leading to sustained type I IFN production. This is reflected by an overexpression of type I IFN-regulated genes or an IFN signature. Type I IFNs have effects on both the innate and adaptive immune systems, which contribute to both loss of tolerance and the autoimmune disease process. In this review, we discuss the current understanding of IFNs in SLE, focusing on their regulation, the influence of genetic background, and environmental factors and therapies that are under development aiming to inhibit the type I IFN system in SLE.
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