Interferons: Mechanisms of action and clinical applications

Simrit Parmar, Leonidas C Platanias*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: Interferons are pleiotropic cytokines that exhibit important biologic activities, including antiviral, antitumor, and immunomodulatory effects. These cytokines have found important applications in clinical medicine, including the treatment of certain malignancies. The purpose of this review is to provide an update on basic and clinical research in the interferon field. Recent findings: Significant advances have recently occurred in the field of type I interferon signal transduction. It is well known that the interferons transduce signals via activation of multiple signaling cascades, involving Jak kinases, signal transducer and activator of transcription proteins, Map kinases, and IRS and Crk proteins. Recent evidence indicates that the p38 Map kinase pathway plays an important role in type I interferon signaling in malignant cells and that its function is required for type I interferon-dependent gene transcription and generation of the antiproliferative of type I interferons. In clinical oncology, interferon-α remains an active and useful agent in the treatment of several malignant disorders, and efforts are underway to improve its efficacy by using different schedules and combinations with other agents. Summary: This review summarizes the mechanisms of signal transduction of interferons and the emerging new concepts in this area. An update on the clinical applications of interferons in oncology is also provided, and potential translational applications, reflecting recent advances in the field, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-439
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent opinion in oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2003


  • Apoptosis
  • CML
  • Interferon
  • Jak-Stat pathway
  • Map kinase
  • Melanoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Renal cancer
  • Signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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