Type I Interferon Suppresses Type II Interferon–Triggered Human Anti-Mycobacterial Responses

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Science  28 Feb 2013:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1233665

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Type I interferons (IFN-α and IFN-β) are important for protection against many viral infections, whereas type II interferon (IFN-γ) is essential for host defense against some bacterial and parasitic pathogens. Study of IFN responses in human leprosy revealed an inverse correlation between IFN-β and IFN-γ gene expression programs. IFN-γ and its downstream vitamin D–dependent antimicrobial genes were preferentially expressed in self-healing tuberculoid lesions and mediated antimicrobial activity against the pathogen Mycobacterium leprae in vitro. In contrast, IFN-β and its downstream genes, including interleukin 10 (IL-10), were induced in monocytes by M. leprae in vitro, and preferentially expressed in disseminated and progressive lepromatous lesions. The IFN-γ–induced macrophage vitamin D–dependent antimicrobial peptide response was inhibited by IFN-β and by IL-10, suggesting that the differential production of IFNs contributes to protection versus pathogenesis in some human bacterial infections.

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