Human natural interferon-alpha producing cells

Pharmacol Ther. 1993 Oct;60(1):39-62. doi: 10.1016/0163-7258(93)90021-5.


Interferons (IFNs) are critical components of the host immune system, serving as antiviral agents, immunomodulators and inhibitors of cell growth. Among peripheral blood mononuclear cells, the primary IFN-alpha-producing cell is a light density, HLA-DR+ cell negative for cell surface markers typical for T cells, B cells, monocytes, natural-killer or progenitor cells and has been tentatively termed the 'natural IFN-producing cell' or NIPC. Although present in very low frequency (approximately 1:1000 among peripheral blood mononuclear cells), the NIPC are very potent, with an individual cell able to produce 1-2 IU of IFN. In this review, the characteristics, phenotype, regulation and relationship of NIPC to human disease are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / biosynthesis*
  • Interferon-alpha / genetics
  • Monocytes / metabolism*


  • Interferon-alpha