Effects of Interferons and Viruses on Metabolism

Front Immunol. 2016 Dec 21;7:630. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2016.00630. eCollection 2016.


Interferons (IFNs) are potent pleiotropic cytokines that broadly alter cellular functions in response to viral and other infections. These alterations include changes in protein synthesis, proliferation, membrane composition, and the nutritional microenvironment. Recent evidence suggests that antiviral responses are supported by an IFN-induced rewiring of the cellular metabolism. In this review, we discuss the roles of type I and type II IFNs in regulating the cellular metabolism and biosynthetic reactions. Furthermore, we give an overview of how viruses themselves affect these metabolic activities to promote their replication. In addition, we focus on the lipid as well as amino acid metabolisms, through which IFNs exert potent antiviral and immunomodulatory activities. Conversely, the expression of IFNs is controlled by the nutrient sensor mammalian target of rapamycin or by direct reprograming of lipid metabolic pathways. These findings establish a mutual relationship between IFN production and metabolic core processes.

Keywords: cholesterol synthesis; fatty acid oxidation; fatty acid synthesis; glycolysis; immunometabolism; mTOR; oxidative phosphorylation.

Publication types

  • Review