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Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2018 Apr;40:13-18. doi: 10.1016/j.cytogfr.2018.02.002. Epub 2018 Feb 13.

Interferon α subtypes in HIV infection.

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Institute for Virology, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, 45147, Essen, Germany.
Institute for Virology, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, 45147, Essen, Germany. Electronic address:


Type I interferons (IFN), which are immediately induced after most virus infections, are central for direct antiviral immunity and link innate and adaptive immune responses. However, several viruses have evolved strategies to evade the IFN response by preventing IFN induction or blocking IFN signaling pathways. Thus, therapeutic application of exogenous type I IFN or agonists inducing type I IFN responses are a considerable option for future immunotherapies against chronic viral infections. An important part of the type I IFN family are 12 IFNα subtypes, which all bind the same receptor, but significantly differ in their biological activities. Up to date only one IFNα subtype (IFNα2) is being used in clinical treatment against chronic virus infections, however its therapeutic success rate is rather limited, especially during Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. Recent studies addressed the important question if other IFNα subtypes would be more potent against retroviral infections in in vitro and in vivo experiments. Indeed, very potent IFNα subtypes were defined and their antiviral and immunomodulatory properties were characterized. In this review we summarize the recent findings on the role of individual IFNα subtypes during HIV and Simian Immunodeficiency Virus infection. This includes their induction during HIV/SIV infection, their antiretroviral activity and the regulation of immune response against HIV by different IFNα subtypes. The findings might facilitate novel strategies for HIV cure or functional cure studies.


HIV; IFNα subtypes; ISGs; SIV

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