Advances in the understanding of autoimmune liver diseases and those of known etiology, such as chronic viral and drug-induced hepatitis, have underscored the importance of autoimmune reactivity in a variety of hepatocellular diseases. The widespread use of interferon (IFN) therapy in chronic viral hepatitis has provided another dimension because of the diverse biologic activities of administered interferons and their propensity to induce and/or modify autoimmunity.
Interferons comprise a group of related proteins whose effects include antiviral activity, growth regulatory properties, inhibition of angiogenesis, regulation of cell differentiation, enhancement of major histocompatibility complex antigen expression, and a wide variety of immunomodulatory activities. They were originally classified according to their source and have subsequently been renamed:
●Leukocyte interferon is interferon alfa (IFNa)
●Fibroblast interferon is interferon beta (IFNb)
●Immune interferon is interferon gamma (IFNg)