Interferon protects mice against inhalation anthrax

Kristin Walberg, Samuel Baron, Joyce Poast, Barbara Schwartz, Lara Izotova, Sidney Pestka, Johnny Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


Interferons (IFNs) play a role in innate immunity during many viral, bacterial, and protozoal infections. With the increasing threat of bioterrorist attacks with Bacillus anthracis, its high lethality, and the limited effectiveness of antibiotics, alternative treatments are being studied. Antibodies to protective antigen (PA) are promising, as is IFN. During many bacterial infections, production of and protection by IFNs has been reported, including B. anthracis in vitro. In vivo, we find that (1) the type I IFN inducer, Poly-ICLC, strongly and rapidly protects mice; (2) the protection is IFN-mediated since recombinant murine IFN-β can protect, and protection by Poly-ICLC is abrogated in IFN type I receptor knockout mice. The greatest protection by Poly-ICLC was conferred by intranasal treatment. A delay in death was observed with the intramuscular route alone, but was not significant. Together, the results suggest the IFN defense could protect mice, up to 60%, against lethal inhalational anthrax, and thus have important medical implications for therapy of human anthrax.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-601
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Interferon and Cytokine Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology
  • Cell Biology

Cite this

Walberg, K., Baron, S., Poast, J., Schwartz, B., Izotova, L., Pestka, S., & Peterson, J. (2008). Interferon protects mice against inhalation anthrax. Journal of Interferon and Cytokine Research, 28(10), 597-601.