Monthly Archives: February 2014

Increased IFN signalling is a risk factor for the development of the first autoimmune events in T1D

Our group has a manuscript just out in Diabetes in which we have investigated the role of type 1 interferon signalling in the pathogenesis of the autoimmune disease T1D. The work was led by Ricardo Ferreira and Hui Guo. Type 1 interferon (IFN) signalling is a evolutionarily conserved biological pathway that plays a major role in the defense against viral infections. Every mammal expresses IFN genes and birds, amphibians and fish also express functionally homologous molecules. However, a side effect of the IFN responses is that they can also cause bystander tissue damage and can also lead to the activation of an autoimmune response. In fact, in humans chronically activated IFN signalling has been recently implicated in the aetiology of several systemic autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or vasculitis. Importantly, in T1D, genetic evidence from genome-wide association studies has pointed to an important role of this biological pathway in this disease, including the identification of IFIH1, a major sensor of viral infections, as a susceptibility gene.

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