Publication date: Sep 20, 2023
Interferons (IFNs) are a family of proteins that are generated in response to viral infection and induce an antiviral response in many cell types. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that patients with inborn errors of type-I IFN immunity were more prone to severe infections, but also found that many patients with severe COVID-19 had anti-IFN autoantibodies that led to acquired defects in type-I IFN immunity. These findings revealed the previously unappreciated finding that central immune tolerance to IFN is essential to immune health. Further evidence has also highlighted the importance of IFN within the thymus and its impact on T-cell development. This review will highlight what is known of IFN’s role in T-cell development, T-cell central tolerance, and the impact of IFN on the thymus.