The type I interferons (IFNs) (IFNα and IFNβ) not only have potent antiviral activities, but also have pathological functions if produced at high levels or over a long time. Recent articles have described antiviral immune mechanisms that are activated in response to virus infection at epithelial surfaces independently of IFNα and IFNβ. This may allow the host to exert rapid local antiviral activity and only induce a full-blown, and potentially pathological, type I IFN response in situations where stronger protective immunity is needed. Here, I describe the emerging understanding of early antiviral defenses, which are independent of type I IFN responses, and also discuss how this enables tissues to exert rapid antiviral activities and to limit type I IFN production.
Keywords: epithelial surfaces; innate immunity; type I IFN.; viruses.
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