Role of Interferon-λ in Allergic Asthma
Type III interferons (IFNs), or IFN-λ, are known to have potent antiviral and antiproliferative activities. It inhibits viral replication and upregulates cytotoxic responses to virally infected cells. Besides these characteristics, IFN-λ also has additional activities in the immune system. In fact, it induces the proliferation of Foxp3-expressing regulatory T cells mediated in part by dendritic cells and inhibit the production of IL-5 and IL-13 in vitro. Regulatory T cells and the Th2 cytokines like IL-5 and IL-13 play important roles in the pathogenesis of allergic asthma. In humans, there seems to be an inverse link between IFN-λ and the severity of allergic asthma and allergic asthma exacerbations. Asthmatic patients, without a detectable viral infection show an inverse correlation between IL-28 and IL-29 mRNA levels and severity of allergic responses in the airways. These additional features of IFN-λ that affect the adaptive immune system make it a potential immunotherapeutic agent for the treatment of allergic asthma.