Janus-like effects of type I interferon in autoimmune diseases


Robert C. Axtell
Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences
Stanford University
Beckman Center, B002
279 Campus Drive
Stanford, CA 94305-5316, USA
Tel.: +1 650 723 7295
Fax: +1 650 724 5344
e-mail: axterobe@stanford.edu


Summary:  In multiple sclerosis, type I interferon (IFN) is considered immune-modulatory, and recombinant forms of IFN-β are the most prescribed treatment for this disease. This is in contrast to most other autoimmune disorders, because type I IFN contributes to the pathologies. Even within the relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) population, 30–50% of MS patients are non-responsive to this treatment, and it consistently worsens neuromyelitis optica, a disease similar to RRMS. In this article, we discuss the recent advances in the field of autoimmunity and introduce the theory explain how type I IFNs can be pro-inflammatory in disease that is predominantly driven by a Th17 response and are therapeutic when disease is predominantly Th1.