Immunology

Exercising muscle combats chronic inflammation on its own

Biomedical engineers at Duke University have demonstrated that human muscle has an innate ability to ward off the damaging effects of chronic inflammation when exercised. The discovery was made possible through the use of ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

COVID-19 virus helps block host immunity

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, blocks the processes of innate immune activation that normally direct the production and/or signaling of type I interferon (IFN-I) by the infected cell and tissues. IFN-I is a key ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Scientists identify 'immune cop' that detects SARS-CoV-2

Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have identified the sensor in human lungs that detects SARS-CoV-2 and signals that it's time to mount an antiviral response. The study, published today in Cell ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Why are some COVID-19 infected people asymptomatic?

Researchers worldwide have been surprised to see that individuals can be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus—the virus that produces COVID-19—without showing symptoms. Since these individuals expose others to infection ...

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Interferon

Interferons (IFNs) are proteins made and released by host cells in response to the presence of pathogens—such as viruses, bacteria, or parasites—or tumor cells. They allow communication between cells to trigger the protective defenses of the immune system that eradicate pathogens or tumors.

IFNs belong to the large class of glycoproteins known as cytokines. Interferons are named after their ability to "interfere" with viral replication within host cells. IFNs have other functions: they activate immune cells, such as natural killer cells and macrophages; they increase recognition of infection or tumor cells by up-regulating antigen presentation to T lymphocytes; and they increase the ability of uninfected host cells to resist new infection by virus. Certain host symptoms, such as aching muscles and fever, are related to the production of IFNs during infection.

About ten distinct IFNs have been identified in mammals; seven of these have been described for humans. They are typically divided among three IFN classes: Type I IFN, Type II IFN, and Type III IFN. IFNs belonging to all IFN classes are very important for fighting viral infections.

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