Genetic variations in the ITGAM gene (encoding CD11b) strongly associate with risk for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Here we have shown that 3 nonsynonymous ITGAM variants that produce defective CD11b associate with elevated levels of type I interferon (IFN-I) in lupus, suggesting a direct link between reduced CD11b activity and the chronically increased inflammatory status in patients. Treatment with the small-molecule CD11b agonist LA1 led to partial integrin activation, reduced IFN-I responses in WT but not CD11b-deficient mice, and protected lupus-prone MRL/Lpr mice from end-organ injury. CD11b activation reduced TLR-dependent proinflammatory signaling in leukocytes and suppressed IFN-I signaling via an AKT/ FOXO3/IFN regulatory factor 3/7 pathway. TLR-stimulated macrophages from CD11B SNP carriers showed increased basal expression of IFN regulatory factor 7 (IRF7) and IFN-?, as well as increased nuclear exclusion of FOXO3, which was suppressed by LA1-dependent activation of CD11b. This suggests that pharmacologic activation of CD11b could be a potential mechanism for developing SLE therapeutics.
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