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J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2013 Oct-Dec;27(4):1001-9.

Type III interferon (IFN-lambda) antagonizes the antiviral activity of interferon-alpha in vitro.

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Laboratory of Virology, National Institute for Infectious Diseases L. Spallanzani, Rome, Italy.


Type III interferons (IFN-lambda) are the most recently discovered members of IFN family. Synergism between different IFN types is well established, but for type I and type III IFNs no conclusive evidence has been reported so far. Possible synergism/antagonism between IFN-alpha and IFN-lambda in the inhibition of virus replication (EMCV, WNV lineage 1 and 2, CHIKV and HSV-1), and in the activation of intracellular pathways of IFN response (MxA and 2'-5' OAS) was evaluated in different cell lines (Vero E6, A549 and Wish cells). The antiviral potency of IFN-lambda1 and -l2 was lower than that of IFN-alpha. When IFN-alpha and -lambda were used together, the Combination Index (CI) for virus inhibition was greater than 1 virtually for all virus/host cell systems, indicating antagonistic effect. Antagonism between IFN-alpha and -l was also observed for the induction of mRNA for both MxA and 2'-5'OAS. Elucidating the interplay between IFN-alpha and -lambda may help to better understand innate defence mechanisms against viral infections, including the molecular mechanisms underlying the influence of IL-28B polymorphisms in the response to HCV and other viral infections.

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