Activated interferon system in healthy homosexual men

S. Levin, T. Hahn, Z. T. Handzel, E. Galili-Wiesstub, V. Bregman, R. Myer, M. Tinowitz, Y. Altman, N. Barzilai, Y. Brenner, Z. Bentwich

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8 Scopus citations


More than 50% of a group of healthy homosexuals in Israel were found to have an activated interferon (IFN) system as evidenced by markedly elevated blood IFN levels, increased in vitro production of IFN by unstimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells and HuIFN-α and HuIFN-γ production by appropriately stimulated cells, and a surprisingly high incidence of an antiviral state of cells. This pattern resembles that found in persons with acute viral illness, and is unlike that found in normal healthy controls. The type of IFN in the blood was found to be unusual in that it was mainly HuIFN-α, pH 2-labile, a type of IFN found in certain collagen diseases as well as in homosexual men suffering from Kaposi's sarcoma or lymphadenopathy. Natural killer (NK) cytotoxic activity was found to be somewhat lower than that found in normal controls, although no correlation was found between blood IFN levels and NK activity. Mean (2′-5′)-oligoisoadenylate synthetase levels in cell extracts were intermediate between normal controls and patients with viral illness. Likewise no correlation was found between enzyme levels and blood IFN levels. The highly activated IFN system found in certain homosexuals, as well as the increased spontaneous production of IFN by unstimulated mononuclear cells, suggest the possibility of the presence of a virus, active or latent, in these individuals. This virus could be a retrovirus such as HTLV-III or LAV which have recently been isolated from AIDS patients. The special type of IFN present could be the response to a novel virus in an unusual situation. On the basis of recent reports, we speculate that homosexuals with highly activated IFN systems who produce pH 2-labile HuIFN-α could be at increased risk for developing AIDS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-240
Number of pages12
JournalAntiviral Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Virology


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