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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2012, Article ID 582352, 15 pages
Review Article

Genetics of SLE: Functional Relevance for Monocytes/Macrophages in Disease

Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics and RCSI Research Institute, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 2, Ireland

Received 23 June 2012; Revised 24 August 2012; Accepted 25 September 2012

Academic Editor: Timothy B. Niewold

Copyright © 2012 Jennifer C. Byrne et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Genetic studies in the last 5 years have greatly facilitated our understanding of how the dysregulation of diverse components of the innate immune system contributes to pathophysiology of SLE. A role for macrophages in the pathogenesis of SLE was first proposed as early as the 1980s following the discovery that SLE macrophages were defective in their ability to clear apoptotic cell debris, thus prolonging exposure of potential autoantigens to the adaptive immune response. More recently, there is an emerging appreciation of the contribution both monocytes and macrophages play in orchestrating immune responses with perturbations in their activation or regulation leading to immune dysregulation. This paper will focus on understanding the relevance of genes identified as being associated with innate immune function of monocytes and macrophages and development of SLE, particularly with respect to their role in (1) immune complex (IC) recognition and clearance, (2) nucleic acid recognition via toll-like receptors (TLRs) and downstream signalling, and (3) interferon signalling. Particular attention will be paid to the functional consequences these genetic associations have for disease susceptibility or pathogenesis.