Inborn Errors of Anti-Viral Interferon Immunity in Humans

Curr Opin Virol. 2011 Dec;1(6):487-96. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2011.10.016.


The three types of interferon (IFNs) are essential for immunity against at least some viruses in the mouse model of experimental infections, type I IFNs displaying the broadest and strongest anti-viral activity. Consistently, human genetic studies have shown that type II IFN is largely redundant for immunity against viruses in the course of natural infections. The precise contributions of human type I and III IFNs remain undefined. However, various inborn errors of anti-viral IFN immunity have been described, which can result in either broad or narrow immunological and viral phenotypes. The broad disorders impair the response to (STAT1, TYK2) or the production of at least type I and type III IFNs following multiple stimuli (NEMO), resulting in multiple viral infections at various sites, including herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE). The narrow disorders impair exclusively (TLR3) or mostly (UNC-93B, TRIF, TRAF3) the TLR3-dependent induction of type I and III IFNs, leading to HSE in apparently otherwise healthy individuals. These recent discoveries highlight the importance of human type I and III IFNs in protective immunity against viruses, including the TLR3-IFN pathway in protection against HSE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Encephalitis, Herpes Simplex / immunology*
  • Encephalitis, Herpes Simplex / virology
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interferons / deficiency
  • Interferons / genetics
  • Interferons / immunology*


  • Interferons