Background Type I interferons (IFN-I) contribute to a broad range of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs). Compelling evidence suggests that the measurement of IFN-I pathway activation may have clinical value. Although several IFN-I pathway assays have been proposed, the exact clinical applications are unclear. We summarise the evidence on the potential clinical utility of assays measuring IFN-I pathway activation. Methods A systematic literature review was conducted across three databases to evaluate the use of IFN-I assays in diagnosis and monitor disease activity, prognosis, response to treatment and responsiveness to change in several RMDs. Results Of 366 screened, 276 studies were selected that reported the use of assays reflecting IFN-I pathway activation for disease diagnosis (n=188), assessment of disease activity (n=122), prognosis (n=20), response to treatment (n=23) and assay responsiveness (n=59). Immunoassays, quantitative PCR (qPCR) and microarrays were reported most frequently, while systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis, myositis, systemic sclerosis and primary Sjögren's syndrome were the most studied RMDs. The literature demonstrated significant heterogeneity in techniques, analytical conditions, risk of bias and application in diseases. Inadequate study designs and technical heterogeneity were the main limitations. IFN-I pathway activation was associated with disease activity and flare occurrence in SLE, but their incremental value was uncertain. IFN-I pathway activation may predict response to IFN-I targeting therapies and may predict response to different treatments. Conclusions Evidence indicates potential clinical value of assays measuring IFN-I pathway activation in several RMDs, but assay harmonisation and clinical validation are urged. This review informs the EULAR points to consider for the measurement and reporting of IFN-I pathway assays.
- arthritis, rheumatoid
- immune system diseases
- lupus erythematosus, systemic
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy