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J Virol. 2012 Apr;86(8):4477-87. doi: 10.1128/JVI.06683-11. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

Bovine type III interferon significantly delays and reduces the severity of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle.

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  • 1Plum Island Animal Disease Center, North Atlantic Area, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Greenport, New York, USA.


Interferons (IFNs) are the first line of defense against viral infections. Although type I and II IFNs have proven effective to inhibit foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) replication in swine, a similar approach had only limited efficacy in cattle. Recently, a new family of IFNs, type III IFN or IFN-λ, has been identified in human, mouse, chicken, and swine. We have identified bovine IFN-λ3 (boIFN-λ3), also known as interleukin 28B (IL-28B), and demonstrated that expression of this molecule using a recombinant replication-defective human adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) vector, Ad5-boIFN-λ3, exhibited antiviral activity against FMDV in bovine cell culture. Furthermore, inoculation of cattle with Ad5-boIFN-λ3 induced systemic antiviral activity and upregulation of IFN-stimulated gene expression in the upper respiratory airways and skin. In the present study, we demonstrated that disease could be delayed for at least 6 days when cattle were inoculated with Ad5-boIFN-λ3 and challenged 24 h later by intradermolingual inoculation with FMDV. Furthermore, the delay in the appearance of disease was significantly prolonged when treated cattle were challenged by aerosolization of FMDV, using a method that resembles the natural route of infection. No clinical signs of FMD, viremia, or viral shedding in nasal swabs was found in the Ad5-boIFN-λ3-treated animals for at least 9 days postchallenge. Our results indicate that boIFN-λ3 plays a critical role in the innate immune response of cattle against FMDV. To this end, this work represents the most successful biotherapeutic strategy so far tested to control FMDV in cattle.

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