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Nat Immunol. 2005 Jul;6(7):722-9. Epub 2005 Jun 12.

A critical function for type I interferons in cancer immunoediting.

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Department of Pathology and Immunology, Center for Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.

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  • Nat Immunol. 2005 Aug;6(8):852.


'Cancer immunoediting' is a process wherein the immune system protects hosts against tumor development and facilitates outgrowth of tumors with reduced immunogenicity. Although interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) is known to be involved in this process, the involvement of type I interferons (IFN-alpha/beta) has not been elucidated. We now show that, like IFN-gamma, endogenously produced IFN-alpha/beta was required for the prevention of the growth of primary carcinogen-induced and transplantable tumors. Although tumor cells are important IFN-gamma targets, they are not functionally relevant sites of the actions of the type I interferons. Instead, host hematopoietic cells are critical IFN-alpha/beta targets during development of protective antitumor responses. Therefore, type I interferons are important components of the cancer immunoediting process and function in a way that does not completely overlap the functions of IFN-gamma.

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