It has been well-established that type I interferons (IFN-Is) have pleiotropic effects and play an early central role in the control of many acute viral infections. However, their pleiotropic effects are not always beneficial to the host and in fact several reports suggest that the induction of IFN-Is exacerbate disease outcomes against bacterial and chronic viral infections. In this brief review, we probe into this mystery and try to develop answers based on past and recent studies evaluating the roles of IFN-Is in infection and immunity as this is vital for developing effective IFN-Is based therapeutics and vaccines. We also discuss the biological roles of an emerging IFN-I, namely IFN-ε, and discuss its potential use as a mucosal therapeutic and/or vaccine adjuvant. Overall, we anticipate the discussions generated in this review will provide new insights for better exploiting the biological functions of IFN-Is in developing efficacious therapeutics and vaccines in the future
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