Antitumour actions of interferons: implications for cancer therapy

Nat Rev Cancer. 2016 Mar;16(3):131-44. doi: 10.1038/nrc.2016.14.


The interferons (IFNs) are a family of cytokines that protect against disease by direct effects on target cells and by activating immune responses. The production and actions of IFNs are finely tuned to achieve maximal protection and avoid the potential toxicity associated with excessive responses. IFNs are back in the spotlight owing to mounting evidence that is reshaping how we can exploit this pathway therapeutically. As IFNs can be produced by, and act on, both tumour cells and immune cells, understanding this reciprocal interaction will enable the development of improved single-agent or combination therapies that exploit IFN pathways and new 'omics'-based biomarkers to indicate responsive patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Interferons / physiology*
  • Interferons / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Interferons