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Dermatology Research and Practice
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 847545, 11 pages
Review Article

Type I Interferons: Key Players in Normal Skin and Select Cutaneous Malignancies

1School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA
2Department of Dermatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, VH 566A, 1670 University Boulevard, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA

Received 18 July 2013; Revised 11 October 2013; Accepted 17 October 2013; Published 5 January 2014

Academic Editor: Ashfaq A. Marghoob

Copyright © 2014 Aimen Ismail and Nabiha Yusuf. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Interferons (IFNs) are a family of naturally existing glycoproteins known for their antiviral activity and their ability to influence the behavior of normal and transformed cell types. Type I Interferons include IFN-α and IFN-β. Currently, IFN-α has numerous approved antitumor applications, including malignant melanoma, in which IFN-α has been shown to increase relapse free survival. Moreover, IFN-α has been successfully used in the intralesional treatment of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC). In spite of these promising clinical results; however, there exists a paucity of knowledge on the precise anti-tumor action of IFN-α/β at the cellular and molecular levels in cutaneous malignancies such as SCC, BCC, and melanoma. This review summarizes current knowledge on the extent to which Type I IFN influences proliferation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and immune function in normal skin, cutaneous SCC, BCC, and melanoma.