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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Interferon-alpha induces interleukin-18 binding protein in chronic hepatitis C patients.

Interleukin-18 (IL-18), derived from macrophages and Kupffer cells, is the central pro-inflammatory cytokine leading to experimental liver failure. IL-18 binding protein (IL-18BP) is a circulating protein that binds IL-18 and neutralizes its activity. Since IL-18 production is increased in chronic HCV infection, we asked whether IFN-alpha might act on the IL-18/IL-18BP system in HCV patients. IL-18BP, total and free IL-18 plasma levels were determined in 13 HCV patients receiving 1 x 107 IU IFN-alpha subcutaneously daily for 28 days. The in vitro effects of IFN-alpha on macrophage IL-18BP and IL-18 were studied by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and Northern analysis. IFN-alpha administration increased IL-18BP plasma levels 3.24 fold 24 h after institution of therapy, resulting in a 67.4% reduction of free IL-18. Total IL-18 levels decreased from day +24 on. In vitro, IFN-alpha diminished IL-18 release from macrophages of healthy volunteers and chronic HCV patients. On top of its inhibitory effects on IL-1 and TNF-alpha release, IFN-alpha also exerts its anti-inflammatory action in vivo by induction of IL-18BP. These anti-inflammatory properties might account - together with its antiviral action - for its clinical efficacy in chronic hepatitis C.[1]


  1. Interferon-alpha induces interleukin-18 binding protein in chronic hepatitis C patients. Kaser, A., Novick, D., Rubinstein, M., Siegmund, B., Enrich, B., Koch, R.O., Vogel, W., Kim, S.H., Dinarello, C.A., Tilg, H. Clin. Exp. Immunol. (2002) [Pubmed]
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