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Sci. STKE, 11 December 2007
Vol. 2007, Issue 416, p. pe70
[DOI: 10.1126/stke.4162007pe70]


Type I Interferons as Anti-Inflammatory Mediators

Etty N. Benveniste* and Hongwei Qin

Department of Cell Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294–0005, USA.

Abstract: The type I interferons (IFNs), IFN-{alpha} and IFN-β, are cytokines that have antiviral, antiproliferative, and immunomodulatory activities. Data are now emerging that suggest that type I IFNs are also important mediators of anti-inflammatory responses. These findings, largely driven by studies to explain the beneficial effects of IFN-β in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, offer a number of mechanisms for the anti-inflammatory properties of type I IFNs. Type I IFNs, through their ability to induce the immunosuppressive cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10), mediate the inhibition of proinflammatory gene products. In addition, type I IFNs induce other immunosuppressive mediators such as suppressor of cytokine signaling–1 (SOCS-1) and tristetrapolin (TTP), which act by divergent mechanisms to restore homeostasis to the immune system. Furthermore, type I IFNs mediate anti-inflammatory and protective effects in a variety of autoimmune disease models such as experimental colitis, experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, experimental arthritis, and neonatal inflammation. Here, we discuss the molecular basis for the anti-inflammatory properties of type I IFNs and their therapeutic potential in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

*Corresponding author. E-mail, tika{at}

Citation: E. N. Benveniste, H. Qin, Type I Interferons as Anti-Inflammatory Mediators. Sci. STKE 2007, pe70 (2007).

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