Interferon Lambda: Toward a Dual Role in Cancer

Ahmed Lasfar, Andrew Zloza, Ann W. Silk, Leonard Y. Lee, Karine A. Cohen-Solal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interferon (IFN)-λ, a type III interferon (IFN), is a member of a new family of pleotropic cytokines that share high similarity with classical IFNs α and β (IFN-α/β), type I IFNs. IFN-λ acts as an antiviral agent and displays distinct biological functions, including tumor suppression. Although it activates the common Janus kinase (JAK) and signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) pathways, similar to IFN-α/β, IFN-λ differentially induces the expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). Novel evidence indicates that IFN-λ acts quite differently from IFN-α/β under both homeostasis and pathological situations. In contrast to IFN-α/β, IFN-λ is not involved in over-stimulation of the immune response or exacerbation of inflammation. However, the emergence of unexpected characteristics of IFN-λ, in the control of inflammation and promotion of immune suppression and cancer, reveals novel challenges and offers more strategic opportunities in the context of cancer and beyond. In this article, we discuss new evidence and potential consequences associated with the biology of IFN-λ and provide a different vision for building novel therapeutic strategies in oncology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-29
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Interferon and Cytokine Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • IFN cancer therapy
  • IFN immunology
  • IFN inflammation
  • IFN signaling
  • IFN-λ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Virology


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