Adjuvant activity of type I interferons

Biol Chem. 2008 May;389(5):541-5. doi: 10.1515/bc.2008.051.


Type I interferons (IFNs) produced primarily by plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) as part of the innate immune response to infectious agents induce the maturation of myeloid DCs and enhance antigen presentation. Type I IFNs also enhance apoptosis of virus-infected cells, stimulate cross priming and enhanced presentation of viral peptides. Type I IFNs are powerful polyclonal B-cell activators that induce a strong primary humoral immune response characterized by isotype switching and protection against virus challenge. Type I IFNs stimulate an IgG2a antibody response characteristic of Th1 immunity when ad-mixed with influenza virus vaccine and injected intramuscurarly (i.m.) or administered intranasally. The adjuvant activity of type I IFNs has been shown to involve direct effects of IFN on B-cells, effects on T-cells, as well as effects on antigen presentation. Oromucosal administration of type I IFNs concomitantly with i.m. injection of vaccine alone can also enhance the antibody response to influenza vaccination by enhancing trafficking of antigen-presenting cells towards the site of vaccination. Recombinant IFNs are potent adjuvants that may find application in both parenterally and mucosally administered vaccines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic*
  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects
  • Immunity, Mucosal / drug effects
  • Immunity, Mucosal / immunology
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive
  • Interferon Type I / immunology
  • Interferon Type I / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Interferon Type I