Current HIV/AIDS Reports

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 41–53 | Cite as

Type I Interferon: Understanding Its Role in HIV Pathogenesis and Therapy

  • Steven E. BosingerEmail author
  • Netanya S. UtayEmail author
HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment (AL Landay, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment


Despite over 30 years of research, the contribution of type I interferons (IFN-Is) to both the control of HIV replication and initiation of immunologic damage remains debated. In acute infection, IFN-Is, likely from plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), activate NK cells and upregulate restriction factors targeting virtually the entire HIV life cycle. In chronic infection, IFN-Is may also contribute to CD4 T cell loss and immune exhaustion. pDCs subsequently infiltrate lymphoid and mucosal tissues, and their circulating populations wane in chronic infection; IFN-I may be produced by other cells. Data from nonhuman primates indicate prompt IFN-I signaling is critical in acute infection. Whereas some studies showed IFN-I administration without combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) is beneficial, others suggest that stimulating or blocking IFN-I signaling in chronic ART-suppressed HIV infection has had positive results. Here, we describe the history of HIV and IFN-I, IFN-I’s sources, IFN-I’s effects on HIV control and host defense, and recent interventional studies in SIV and HIV infection.


HIV SIV Acute HIV infection Chronic HIV infection Type I interferon IFN ISG 


Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Steven E. Bosinger and Netanya S. Utay declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory Vaccine CenterYerkes National Primate Research CenterAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Non-Human Primate Genomics Core, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences CenterEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of Texas Medical Branch at GalvestonGalvestonUSA

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