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Eur J Immunol. 2009 Jan;39(1):136-46. doi: 10.1002/eji.200838311.

Anti-retroviral effects of type I IFN subtypes in vivo.

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Institut für Virologie des Universitätsklinikums Essen, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.


Type I IFN play a very important role in immunity against viral infections. Murine type I IFN belongs to a multigene family including 14 IFN-alpha subtypes but the biological functions of IFN-alpha subtypes in retroviral infections are unknown. We have used the Friend retrovirus model to determine the anti-viral effects of IFN-alpha subtypes in vitro and in vivo. IFN-alpha subtypes alpha1, alpha4, alpha6 or alpha9 suppressed Friend virus (FV) replication in vitro, but differed greatly in their anti-viral efficacy in vivo. Treatment of FV-infected mice with the IFN-alpha subtypes alpha1, alpha4 or alpha9, but not alpha6 led to a significant reduction in viral loads. Decreased splenic viral load after IFN-alpha1 treatment correlated with an expansion of activated FV-specific CD8(+) T cells and NK cells into the spleen, whereas in IFN-alpha4- and -alpha9-treated mice it exclusively correlated with the activation of NK cells. The results demonstrate the distinct anti-retroviral effects of different IFN-alpha subtypes, which may be relevant for new therapeutic approaches.

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