Is interferon-alpha a neuromodulator?

Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1998 Mar;26(1):1-15. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0173(97)00029-5.


Interferons were initially characterized for their ability to 'interfere' with viral replication, slow cell proliferation, and profoundly alter immunity. They are a group of hormone-like molecules synthesized and secreted by macrophages, monocytes, T lymphocytes, glia, and neurons. These cytokines have been shown to have several regulatory roles and diverse biological activities, including control of cellular and humoral immune responses, inflammation, and tumor regression. In addition, there are many reports indicating that interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) participates in the regulation of various cellular and humoral processes such as the endocrine system modulates behavior, brain activity, temperature, glucose sensitive neurons, feeding pattern and opiate activity. Therefore, IFN-alpha can be considered as a physiological modulator, with only one of its functions being the ability to hinder viral replication intracellularly.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / metabolism
  • Interferon-alpha / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*


  • Interferon-alpha
  • Neurotransmitter Agents