Interferon-alpha as an effective treatment for noninfectious posterior uveitis and panuveitis

Am J Ophthalmol. 2007 Jul;144(1):55-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2007.03.050.


Purpose: Several studies have shown the capacity of interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) to control ocular Behçet disease. The authors aimed to determine whether IFN-alpha was effective in treating patients with severe, refractory sight-threatening intraocular inflammation (uveitis) from a wider range of causes, including Behçet disease.

Design: Prospective, interventional case series.

Methods: Twelve patients with sight-threatening uveitis that failed to respond to one or more immunosuppressive regimens were enrolled to this study. Recombinant human IFN-alpha-2b was administered subcutaneously daily, and the dose was adjusted according to the clinical response. Main outcome measures were visual acuity, clinical activity of uveitis (including binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy [BIO] score and presence or absence of macular edema), and adverse effects of the treatment.

Results: The mean observation period was 11 months (range, one to 29 months). A positive clinical response was observed in 83% of patients. Median visual acuity improved from 0.54 to 0.2 (logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution units; P < .001) and median BIO score decreased from 1.0 to 0.5 (P < .05) within one month of treatment. Macular edema, if present, resolved in all patients within days of treatment. The main adverse events were tiredness, lymphopenia, flu-like symptoms, and transient increase of liver enzymes. Weight loss occurred in four patients. Four patients experienced depression, one of them attempting suicide. Three patients experienced typical features of IFN-alpha-associated retinopathy, which resolved on reducing the dose.

Conclusions: IFN-alpha seems to have significant potential in treatment of severe, sight-threatening refractory uveitis from a variety of causes. A range of adverse events, including IFN-alpha-associated retinopathy, may occur and could limit the use of this immunomodulatory drug.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Humans
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / adverse effects
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Panuveitis / diagnosis
  • Panuveitis / drug therapy*
  • Panuveitis / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uveitis, Posterior / diagnosis
  • Uveitis, Posterior / drug therapy*
  • Uveitis, Posterior / etiology
  • Visual Acuity


  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Recombinant Proteins