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Updated: Feb 27 2019


  • Snapshot
    • A 50-year-old man with a history of HIV presents to his infectious disease clinic for a rash. He reports that he stopped taking his anti-retroviral medication about 2 months ago due to gastrointestinal upset with each dose. He reports feeling well overall but reports developing a painless rash on his legs. Yesterday, he had night sweats and a low-grade fever. On physical exam, there are scattered violaceous papules and plaques on his bilateral lower extremities. Laboratory studies reveal a CD4+ count of < 200/uL. A skin biopsy is taken, and the patient is restarted on antiretrovirals and started on interferon therapy. (Kaposi sarcoma)
  • Overview
    • Drugs
      • interferon-α
      • interferon-β
      • interferon-γ
    • Mechanism of action
      • interferons are part of the innate host defense against viruses
        • they are glycoproteins that are naturally made by virus-infected cells to fight the infection
        • interferon upregulates MHC expression
      • interferon-α and interferon-β
        • downregulates protein synthesis to prevent viral replication
      • interferon-γ
        • secreted by NK cells and T cells, activating macrophages
        • activates NK cells to also eliminate virus-infected cells
    • Clinical use
      • viral infections, tumors, malignancies, and other conditions
      • interferon-α
        • hepatitis B
        • hepatitis C
        • Kaposi sarcoma
        • condyloma acuminatum
        • hairy cell leukemia
        • renal cell carcinoma
        • malignant melanoma
        • follicular lymphoma
      • interferon-β
        • multiple sclerosis
      • interferon-γ
        • chronic granulomatous disease
        • osteopetrosis
    • Adverse effects
      • flu-like symptoms
      • neutropenia
      • depression
      • myopathy
      • focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (nephrotic syndrome)
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