Date of this Version
Cytokine & Growth Factor Reviews 25 (2014) 369–376
The interferons (IFNs) are glycoproteins with strong antiviral activities that represent one of the first lines of host defense against invading pathogens. These proteins are classified into three groups, Type I, II and III IFNs, based on the structure of their receptors on the cell surface. Due to their ability to modulate immune responses, they have become attractive therapeutic options to control chronic virus infections. In combination with other drugs, Type I IFNs are considered as "standard of care" in suppressing Hepatitis C (HCV) and Hepatitis B (HBV) infections, while Type III IFN has generated encouraging results as a treatment for HCV infection in phase III clinical trials. However, though effective, using IFNs as a treatment is not without the need for caution. IFNs are such powerful cytokines that affect a wide array of cell types; as a result, patients usually experience unpleasant symptoms, with a percentage of patients suffering system wide effects. Thus, constant monitoring is required for patients treated with IFN in order to reach the treatment goals of suppressing virus infection and maintaining quality of life.