Type I interferons (alpha/beta) in immunity and autoimmunity.

Immunology Department, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.
Annual Review of Immunology (Impact Factor: 41.39). 02/2005; 23:307-36. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.immunol.23.021704.115843
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The significance of type I interferons (IFN-alpha/beta) in biology and medicine renders research on their activities continuously relevant to our understanding of normal and abnormal (auto) immune responses. This relevance is bolstered by discoveries that unambiguously establish IFN-alpha/beta, among the multitude of cytokines, as dominant in defining qualitative and quantitative characteristics of innate and adaptive immune processes. Recent advances elucidating the biology of these key cytokines include better definition of their complex signaling pathways, determination of their importance in modifying the effects of other cytokines, the role of Toll-like receptors in their induction, their major cellular producers, and their broad and diverse impact on both cellular and humoral immune responses. Consequently, the role of IFN-alpha/beta in the pathogenesis of autoimmunity remains at the forefront of scientific inquiry and has begun to illuminate the mechanisms by which these molecules promote or inhibit systemic and organ-specific autoimmune diseases.

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