Clinical Immunotherapeutics

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 27–87

Major Therapeutic Uses of Interferons

  • Richard Cirelli
  • Stephen K. Tyring
Review Article Drug Class Overview

DOI: 10.1007/BF03259051

Cite this article as:
Cirelli, R. & Tyring, S.K. Clin. Immunother. (1995) 3: 27. doi:10.1007/BF03259051

Summary

Interferons are part of the body’s natural defence system. They have been shown in vitro and in vivo to possess antiviral, antitumour and immunoregulatory properties. There are two types of interferon, type I and type II. Type I interferons comprise interferon-α (IFNα) and interferon-β (IFNβ). Type II interferon is comprised solely of interferon-γ (IFNγ). Each type has distinctive genetic derivation, primary producing cells, and properties. IFNα is the most widely used interferon, and is produced commercially both by recombinant DNA technology and from stimulated leucocyte and lymphoblastoid cells. IFNβ is also available as a recombinant product and as a naturally produced product from human fibroblasts. IFNγ is available as a recombinant product. The different types of interferons cannot be used interchangeably to obtain the same results. For instance, IFNγ has been shown to aggravate multiple sclerosis, whereas IFNγ has a significant ameliorating effect.

This article reviews the therapeutic use of interferons in: (a) viral infections, including condylomata acuminata, viral hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus infection; (b) neoplastic disorders, including hairy cell leukaemia, multiple myeloma, AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma, cervical neoplasia, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, carcinoid tumours, cutaneous T cell lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; (c) myeloproliferative disorders, including chronic myelogenous leukaemia and polycythaemia vera; (d) rheumatoid disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and systemic sclerosis; (e) other disorders, including multiple sclerosis, chronic granulomatous disease and cryoglobulinaemia. Many other diseases could have been included, but those mentioned have received the greatest amount of investigation and attention. The potential adverse effects of interferons are also discussed.

There is little doubt that the full therapeutic role of interferons has yet to be fully realised, either as single agents or in combination with other cytokines or drugs.

Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Cirelli
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stephen K. Tyring
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  3. 3.Department of DermatologyUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA