Interferons were discovered as antiviral agents, defined accordingly, and generally regarded as such by virologists for many years. However, it is now recognized that, in addition, interferons exert a wide range of other effects on cells in their lole as cytokines. The most important of these additional functions is immunomodulalion Interferon y, a lymphokine produced almost exclusively by T lymphocytes, is over 100 times more potent than interferons (*/p as an immunoregulatory agent and influences the immune response in a wide variety of ways (Table 5-2). Most importantly, interferon secreted by T cells following exposure to virus-inlected cells activates T lymphocytes, macrophages, and NK cells in the vicinity to develop their cytotoxic potential. The contributions of interferons and other cytokines to the immune response to viral infections is discussed in more detail in Chapter 8
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