Type I IFNs are implicated in the pathophysiology of systemic sclerosis (SSc). Recently, a Phase I open-label trial was conducted with an anti-IFNAR1 receptor antibody (anifrolumab) in adult SSc patients. In this study, we aim to assess the downstream effects of anifrolumab and elucidate the role of type I IFN in SSc. Serum proteins and extracellular matrix (ECM) markers were measured in relation to IFN pathway activation status and SSc disease activity. Our results demonstrated a robust overexpression of multiple serum proteins in SSc patients, particularly those with an elevated baseline type I IFN gene signature. Anifrolumab administration was associated with significant downregulation of T cell-associated proteins and upregulation of type III collagen degradation marker. Whole-blood and skin microarray results also indicated the inhibition of T cell receptor and ECM-related transcripts by anifrolumab. In summary, our study demonstrates suppressive effects of anifrolumab on T cell activation and collagen accumulation through which tissue fibrosis may be reduced in SSc patients. The relationship between these peripheral markers and the clinical response to anifrolumab may be examined in larger double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.
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