Interferon-λ restricts West Nile virus neuroinvasion by tightening the blood-brain barrier

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Science Translational Medicine  22 Apr 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 284, pp. 284ra59
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa4304

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Interfering with viral neuroinvasion

Interferon-λ is among many secreted host proteins that activate an antiviral response. In new work, Lazear et al. observed that mice with genetic defects in interferon-λ signaling sustained greater West Nile virus infection in the brain and spinal cord, even though interferon-λ did not inhibit viral replication directly. Instead, interferon-λ signaling tightened the blood-brain barrier and limited West Nile virus dissemination into the brain. Administration of exogenous interferon-λ protected mice from West Nile virus infection in the brain and subsequent death. Thus, interferon-λ contributes to maintaining tissue barriers that restrict viral pathogenesis.