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Open Badges Editorial

Systemic lupus erythematosus and its ABCs (APRIL/BLyS complexes)

William Stohl

Author Affiliations

Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, 2011 Zonal Avenue HMR 711, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2010, 12:111  doi:10.1186/ar2976

See related research by Dillon et al.,

Published: 22 April 2010


BLyS and APRIL are closely related members of the TNF ligand superfamily. These cytokines individually may contribute importantly to the development and maintenance of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Dillon and colleagues demonstrate that in contrast to most members of the TNF ligand superfamily, which form only homotrimers, BLyS and APRIL can complex as heterotrimers. These complexes have in vitro biological activity, and circulating levels of BLyS/APRIL heterotrimers are frequently elevated in SLE, but not rheumatoid arthritis, patients. Although the mechanism and regulation of heterotrimer formation, the interconversion (if any) between homotrimers and heterotrimers, and, indeed, the normal physiologic role for such heterotrimers remain unknown, their preferential overexpression in SLE, but not in rheumatoid arthritis, raises the possibility that such heterotrimers may be playing a contributory role in SLE.