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Principles of interferon therapy in liver disease and the induction of autoimmunity

Ulrich Spengler, MD
Section Editor
Sanjiv Chopra, MD, MACP
Deputy Editor
Jennifer Mitty, MD, MPH


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 IFNs and their propensity to induce and/or modify autoimmunity.

IFNs 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)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: May 12, 2016.
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