The yin and yang of type I interferon activity in bacterial infection

Nat Rev Immunol. 2005 Sep;5(9):675-87. doi: 10.1038/nri1684.


Interferons (IFNs) are cytokines that are important for immune responses, particularly to intracellular pathogens. They are divided into two structurally and functionally distinct types that interact with different cell-surface receptors. Classically, type I IFNs are potent antiviral immunoregulators, whereas the type II IFN enhances antibacterial immunity. However, as outlined here, type I IFNs are also produced in response to infection with other pathogens, and an increasing body of work shows that type I IFNs have an important role in the host response to bacterial infection. Strikingly, their activity can be either favourable or detrimental, and can influence various immune effector mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Bacterial Infections / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Interferon Type I / biosynthesis
  • Interferon Type I / metabolism
  • Interferon Type I / physiology*


  • Interferon Type I