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July 1970

The Biological Significance of the Interferon System

Author Affiliations

Bethesda, Md

From the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Laboratory of Viral Diseases, Public Health Service, US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Bethesda, Md.

Arch Intern Med. 1970;126(1):84-93. doi:10.1001/archinte.1970.00310070086008

The discovery of interferons by Isaacs and Lindenmann1 led, within a short time, to major revisions in concepts of cellular immunity and recovery of multicellular organisms from infection. More recent evidence suggests that the interferon system may play a role during infection by chlamydiae and certain protozoal parasites. There is only suggestive evidence to support the interesting possibility that the interferon system is also of functional significance in uninfected cells. In this communication we shall consider the implications of the interferon system as a host defense during infection and as a biological mechanism. Several reviews and other portions of this issue contain related information.2-10 A more detailed treatment of this subject will be published including detailed references.10

An Overview of the Interferon System.  The interferon system is now thought to be divisible into several components. We will refer to interferon as a protein or proteins which are

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