Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 75, Issue 5, pp 775–783 | Cite as

Control of HIV infection by IFN-α: implications for latency and a cure

  • Nollaig M. Bourke
  • Silvia Napoletano
  • Ciaran Bannan
  • Suaad Ahmed
  • Colm Bergin
  • Áine McKnight
  • Nigel J. Stevenson


Viral infections, including HIV, trigger the production of type I interferons (IFNs), which in turn, activate a signalling cascade that ultimately culminates with the expression of anti-viral proteins. Mounting evidence suggests that type I IFNs, in particular IFN-α, play a pivotal role in limiting acute HIV infection. Highly active anti-retroviral treatment reduces viral load and increases life expectancy in HIV positive patients; however, it fails to fully eliminate latent HIV reservoirs. To revisit HIV as a curable disease, this article reviews a body of literature that highlights type I IFNs as mediators in the control of HIV infection, with particular focus on the anti-HIV restriction factors induced and/or activated by IFN-α. In addition, we discuss the relevance of type I IFN treatment in the context of HIV latency reversal, novel therapeutic intervention strategies and the potential for full HIV clearance.


HIV Interferon Latency Anti-viral JAK/STAT Cure 



Thanks to Ms. Orla Convery for editing this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MedicineTrinity Translational Medicine Institute, Trinity College DublinDublinIreland
  2. 2.Department of Medical GerontologyMercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing, St. James HospitalDublinIreland
  3. 3.School of Biochemistry and ImmunologyTrinity College DublinDublinIreland
  4. 4.Department of Genito Urinary Medicine and Infectious DiseasesSt. James’s HospitalDublinIreland
  5. 5.Blizard Institute School of Medicine and DentistryQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

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