In systematic lupus erythematosus hyperactive helper T-cells drive polyclonal B-cell activation and secretion of pathogenic auto-antibodies. The auto-antibodies form immune complexes with their respective auto-antigens, which in turn deposit in sites such as the kidney and initiate a destructive inflammatory reaction. Lupus nephritis can be managed successfully in the majority of cases; however, the most widely used immunosuppressive therapies, notably corticosteroids and cyclophosphamide are non-specific and are associated with substantial toxicities. Novel treatments for lupus nephritis have to be at least as effective and less toxic than existing therapies. The ultimate aim is to develop treatments that target specific steps in the disease process. Novel therapeutic strategies in the short-term more likely will focus on refining regimens of drugs that are already in use (mycophenolate mofetil, adenosine analogues) and combinations of existing chemotherapeutic agents, as well as attempts to achieve immunological reconstitution using immunoablative chemotherapy with or without haematopoietic stem cell rescue. Several new agents targeting specific steps in the pathogenesis of lupus are in various phases of clinical development. Interrupting the interactions between T-lymphocytes and other cells by blocking co-stimulatory molecules, such as CD40 ligand or CTLA4-Ig, may interfere with the early steps of pathogenesis. Blocking IL-10 may decrease auto-antibody production and help normalise T-cell function. Treating patients with DNase or interfering with the complement cascade by blocking C5, or neutralising pathogenic antibodies by administering specific binding peptides or inducing specific anti-idiotype antibodies may prevent immune complex formation and/or deposition.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)