Interfering with immunity: detrimental role of type I IFNs during infection

J Immunol. 2015 Mar 15;194(6):2455-65. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1402794.


Type I IFNs are known to inhibit viral replication and mediate protection against viral infection. However, recent studies revealed that these cytokines play a broader and more fundamental role in host responses to infections beyond their well-established antiviral function. Type I IFN induction, often associated with microbial evasion mechanisms unique to virulent microorganisms, is now shown to increase host susceptibility to a diverse range of pathogens, including some viruses. This article presents an overview of the role of type I IFNs in infections with bacterial, fungal, parasitic, and viral pathogens and discusses the key mechanisms mediating the regulatory function of type I IFNs in pathogen clearance and tissue inflammation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Disease Resistance / immunology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity / immunology*
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Infections / microbiology
  • Infections / parasitology
  • Interferon Type I / immunology*
  • Interferon Type I / metabolism
  • Receptor, Interferon alpha-beta / immunology
  • Receptor, Interferon alpha-beta / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*


  • Cytokines
  • Interferon Type I
  • Receptor, Interferon alpha-beta