Interferons (IFNs) belong to the group of cytokines and are produced by various cells as part of an immune response to a viral infection or other immune trigger. IFNs are a family of molecules that include more than 15 expressed genes and a number of pseudogenes coded on chromosome 9. IFN-α belongs to the type I IFNs.
IFN-α is produced by monocytes/macrophages, lymphoblastoid cells, fibroblasts, and plasmacytoid dendritic cells(DC). It is detectable under physiological conditions but markedly enhanced during infections, especially viral infections. IFN-α binds to the IFN-α/β receptor CD118; binding to the Epstein–Barr virus receptor CD21 is also described. Binding to the IFN receptor activates the transcription of several different genes inducing the synthesis of host cell proteins that contribute to the inhibition of viral replication. In addition to its antiviral properties, IFN-α...