The interferon antiviral response: from viral invasion to evasion

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One of the initial responses of an organism to infection by pathogenic viruses is the synthesis of antiviral cytokines such as the type I interferons (interferon-α/β), interleukins, and other proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines. Interferons provide a first line of defence against virus infections by generating an intracellular environment that restricts virus replication and signals the presence of a viral pathogen to the adaptive arm of the immune response. Interferons stimulate cells in the local environment to activate a network of interferon-stimulated genes, which encode proteins that have antiviral, antiproliferative and immunomodulatory activities. The present review focuses on recent reports that describe the activation of multiple signalling pathways following virus infection, new candidate genes that are implicated in the establishment of the antiviral state, and the strategies used by viruses and their specific viral products to antagonize and evade the host antiviral response.

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