Interferon (IFN) : Introduction, Types and Functions

Interferon (IFN) :-

  • Interferon are cluster of signaling proteins made and released by host cells in response to the existence of different organisms such as viruses, parasites, bacteria and tumor cells.

Introduction of Interferon (IFN) :-

  • IFNs are play major role in the first line of defense system against the viral infection.
  • IFNs are related to the non-specific immune system.
  • Normally  IFNs are very small in size and released by lymphocyte, macrophage and infected tissue cells.
  • IFNs are produced by cells in response to an appropriate impetus.
  • Interferon was discovered by  Alick Isaacs and Jean Lindenmann in 1957.
  • IFNs are naturally appearing proteins, glycoproteins and secreted by the eukaryotic cells.
  • Provide defense system against various disease such as hepatitis, cancers and multiple sclerosis.

Types of Interferon :-

There are three type of interferons.

  1. Alpha IFNs
  2. Beta IFNs
  3. Gamma IFNsInterferon


  1. Alpha IFNs:-

  • Alpha IFNs is also known as leukocyte IFNs.
  • This type of IFNs are produced by the virus infected leukocytes.
  1. Beta IFNs:-

  • Beta IFNs is also known as fibroblast interferon.
  • This type of IFNs are produced by the virus infected fibroblast or epithelial cells.
  • Alpha and Beta interferon is also known as Type 1 IFNs.
  • These both IFNs are bind to cell receptor type 1 and both coded with chromosome 9.
  • These two IFNs have different binding affinities but they similar biological effects.
  • Viral infection is impetus for alpha and beta expressions.
  • These two INFs are mobilize to first line of defense system against the invading organisms.
  • Largest groups and almost all cell types are secreted into these two INFs.
  1. Gamma INFs :-

  • Gamma INFs is also known as immune interferon.
  • Gamma INFs is produced by certain activated T cells and natural killer (NK) cells.
  • Gamma INFs is also known as Type 2 INFs.
  • This INFs binds to the 2 receptors and its genes are encoded on chromosome 12.
  • Lymphocytes, cytotoxic lymphocyte, natural killer cells, B cells and antigen presenting cells are produced Gamma INFs.
  • The production is prevented by the cytokines secreted by interleukin 12 and 18.

Functions of interferon :-

  • INFs have indirect antiviral properties and restrict the replication and assembly of viral particles.
  • Play  major role in activate to T cells.
  • Also activate neutrophills, macrophages and natural killer cells.
  • INFs have anti-proliferative effects on cell division.
  • Also increase the expression of MHC class 1 and 2 in different cells.
  • Most important function is INFs increase the antigen presenting capacity of antigen presenting cells.


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