Interferon α (IFN-α) and ribavirin can induce a sustained virologic response (SVR) in some but not all hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients. The mechanism of effective treatment is unclear. One possibility is that IFN-α differentially improves the functional capacity of classic myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs) by altering expression of surface molecules or cytokines. Others have proposed that antigen-presenting cell activation could be paradoxically detrimental during HCV infection because of the production by monocytes of substances inhibitory or toxic to plasmacytoid dendritic cells.
We examined responses to in vitro IFN-α treatment of peripheral blood leukocyte samples from a retrospective treatment cohort of nearly 200 HCV-seropositive patients who had undergone antiviral therapy with ribavirin and pegylated IFN. We analyzed the variable responses of antigen-presenting cell subsets to drug.
We found that patients achieving SVR were no more likely to have robust mDC activation in response to IFN-α than those who did not achieve SVR. Rather, patients achieving SVR were distinguished by restrained monocyte activation in the presence of IFN-α, a factor that was second in importance only to IL28B genotype in its association with SVR.
These results suggest that interindividual variability in the response of monocytes to IFN-α is an important determinant of treatment success with IFN-α-based regimens.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Type I interferons (IFN-I) were identified over 50 years ago as cytokines critical for host defense against viral infections. IFN-I promote anti-viral defense through two main mechanisms. First, IFN-I directly reinforce or induce de novo in potentially all cells the expression of effector molecules of intrinsic anti-viral immunity. Second, IFN-I orchestrate innate and adaptive anti-viral immunity. However, IFN-I responses can be deleterious for the host in a number of circumstances, including secondary bacterial or fungal infections, several autoimmune diseases, and, paradoxically, certain chronic viral infections. We will review the proposed nature of protective versus deleterious IFN-I responses in selected diseases. Emphasis will be put on the potentially deleterious functions of IFN-I in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection, and on the respective roles of IFN-I and IFN-III in promoting resolution of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. We will then discuss how the balance between beneficial versus deleterious IFN-I responses is modulated by several key parameters including (i) the subtypes and dose of IFN-I produced, (ii) the cell types affected by IFN-I, and (iii) the source and timing of IFN-I production. Finally, we will speculate how integration of this knowledge combined with advanced biochemical manipulation of the activity of the cytokines should allow designing innovative immunotherapeutic treatments in patients. Specifically, we will discuss how induction or blockade of specific IFN-I responses in targeted cell types could promote the beneficial functions of IFN-I and/or dampen their deleterious effects, in a manner adapted to each disease.
Frontiers in Immunology 10/2014; 5:526. DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2014.00526
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