Alias: Interferon alpha, IFNα
IFNα is a type I interferon that is a pleiotropic agent that functions in anti-viral, anti-proliferative, and immunomodulatory activities. Type I IFNs inhibit growth-promoting cytokines, induce apoptosis, and inhibit cell proliferation. As such IFNα has a known role as an anti-neoplastic agent in the treatment of several cancers. In humans, the IFNα family comprises more than 20 genes and pseudogenes giving rise to 15 different functional gene products. IFNα is produced by monocytes, macrophages, lymphoblastoid cells, fibroblasts, and a number of different cell types following induction by viruses, nucleic acids, glucocorticoid hormones, and small molecules. IFNα binds to its receptor (IFNAR1/IFNAR2) on various cell types to trigger various pathways including JAK/STAT, p38, PKC, and IRS/PI3K. IFNα sensitizes T cells to IL-2 induced proliferation, enhances the cytotoxicity of γδ T cells, and promotion of NK cell cytotoxic activity against leukemic cells. IFNα is used as a biomarker for various immunotherapeutic approaches such as acute phase of a viral infection, juvenile polyarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ancylosing spondylitis, polychondritis, psoriatic arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatic, and scleroderma.