Interferon-alpha and its effects on the cytokine cascade: a pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine

Leuk Lymphoma. 1996 Sep;23(1-2):55-60. doi: 10.3109/10428199609054802.


Interferon-alpha (IFN alpha) has emerged as an important regulator of growth and differentiation, affecting cellular communication and signal transduction pathways as well as immunological control. The efficacy of IFN alpha has been demonstrated in many different diseases of viral, malignant, angiogenic, allergic, inflammatory, and fibrotic origin. Cytokines are pleiotropic and redundant molecules showing a wide variety of biologic functions on various tissues and cells, and several different cytokines exert similar and overlapping functions on certain cells. Data gained in the last years support this view also for IFN alpha. Initially thought to have mainly immunomodulating and proinflammatory effects, recent data suggest that IFN alpha has several anti-inflammatory properties. These newly identified anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive functions may help to explain some of the IFN mechanisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antiviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Hematopoiesis / drug effects
  • Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / chemically induced*
  • Interferon-alpha / adverse effects
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Hormones
  • Interferon-alpha