Last reviewed 01/2018

A group of molecules, which limit the spread of viral infections

  • two categories of IFNs
    • type I IFNs maybe sub-divided further into IFN-alpha and beta
      • induced by viruses, pro-inflammatory cytokines and endotoxins from gram negative bacterial cell walls
      • presence is vital for successful viral eradication by the innate immune system
    • type II interferon is IFN-gamma
      • produced by T Helper cells and NK cells
      • able to augment both the antigen presenting properties together with the phagocytic properties of the APCs (e.g. macrophages and dentritic cells)

Interferons are involved in the regulation of:

  • natural immunity:
    • interferons induce a state of increased resistance to viral infection

  • specific immunity:
    • regulation of lymphocyte activity
    • production of antibodies
    • regulation of cytotoxic T-cells

Interferons have been used in the treatment of three classes of disorder:

  • viral infections
  • malignant disease
  • autoimmune disease