Editors' ChoiceImmunology

Interfering with viral neuroinvasion

Sci. Signal.  28 Apr 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 374, pp. ec111
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aab4166

Interferon-λ [IFN-λ, also known as type III interferon or interleukin-28 (IL-28) or IL-29] is among many secreted host proteins that activate an antiviral response. Lazear et al. observed that mice with genetic defects in IFN-λ signaling sustained greater West Nile virus infection in the brain and spinal cord, even though IFN-λ did not inhibit viral replication directly. Instead, IFN-λ signaling tightened the blood-brain barrier and limited West Nile virus infection into the brain. Administration of exogenous IFN-λ protected mice from West Nile virus infection in the brain and subsequent death. Thus, IFN-λ contributes to maintaining tissue barriers that restrict viral pathogenesis.

H. M. Lazear, B. P. Daniels, A. K. Pinto, A. C. Huang, S. C. Vick, S. E. Doyle, M. Gale Jr., R. S. Klein, M. S. Diamond, Interferon-λ restricts West Nile virus neuroinvasion by tightening the blood-brain barrier. Sci. Transl. Med. 7, 284ra59 (2015). [Abstract]