The Interferons: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications

Samuel Baron, Stephen K. Tyring, W. Robert Fleischmann, Dorian H. Coppenhaver, David W. Niesel, Gary R. Klimpel, G. John Stanton, Thomas K. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

601 Scopus citations


The interferons (IFN) are one of the body’s natural defensive responses to such foreign components as microbes, tumors, and antigens. The IFN response begins with the production of the IFN proteins (α, β, and γ), which then induce the antiviral, antimicrobial, antitumor, and immunomodulatory actions of IFN. Recent advances have led to Food and Drug Administration approval of five clinical indications for IFN. Interferon alfa is approved for hairy-cell leukemia, condyloma acuminatum, Kaposi’s sarcoma in the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, and non-A, non-B (type C) viral hepatitis. Interferon gamma has properties distinctive from those of IFNs α and β and is approved as an immunomodulatory treatment for chronic granulomatous disease. Promising clinical results with IFNs have also been reported for basal cell carcinoma, chronic myelogenous leukemia, cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, early human immunodeficiency virus infection, hepatitis B, and laryngeal papillomatosis. Future clinical uses of IFNs may emphasize combination therapy with other cytokines, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, hyperthermia, or hormones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1375-1383
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 11 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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