The loss of tolerance and the presence of circulating autoantibodies directed against nuclear Ags is the hallmark of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Many of these Ags are complexed with short, noncoding RNAs, such as U1 and Y1. The amount of U1 and Y1 RNA complexed with SLE patient Abs and immune complexes was measured in a cross-section of 228 SLE patients to evaluate the role of these RNA molecules within the known biochemical framework of SLE. The study revealed that SLE patients had significantly elevated levels of circulating U1 and/or Y1 RNA compared with healthy volunteers. In addition, the blood-borne RNA molecules were correlated with SLE disease activity and increased expression of IFN-inducible genes. To our knowledge, this study provides the first systematic examination of the role of circulating RNA in a large group of SLE patients and provides an important link with IFN dysregulation. The Journal of Immunology, 2016, 197: 2854-2863.
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