Interferon-epsilon protects the female reproductive tract from viral and bacterial infection

Ka Yee Fung, Niamh Mangan, Helen Elizabeth Cumming, Jay C Horvat, Jemma R Mayall, Sebastian Anton Stifter, Nicole Anne De Weerd, Laila Catalina Roisman, Jamie Rossjohn, Sarah A Roberston, John E Schjenken, Belinda S Parker, Caroline Eve Gargett, Hong Phuong Thi Nguyen, Daniel J J Carr, Phillip M Hansbro, Paul John Hertzog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

174 Citations (Scopus)


The innate immune system senses pathogens through pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs) that signal to induce effector cytokines, such as type I interferons (IFNs). We characterized IFN-e as a type I IFN because it signaled via the Ifnar1 and Ifnar2 receptors to induce IFN-regulated genes. In contrast to other type I IFNs, IFN-e was not induced by known PRR pathways; instead, IFN-e was constitutively expressed by epithelial cells of the female reproductive tract (FRT) and was hormonally regulated. Ifn-e-deficient mice had increased susceptibility to infection of the FRT by the common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) herpes simplex virus 2 and Chlamydia muridarum. Thus, IFN-e is a potent antipathogen and immunoregulatory cytokine that may be important in combating STIs that represent a major global health and socioeconomic burden.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1088 - 1092
Number of pages5
Issue number6123
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Cite this