Soaad Soboh and Sergei Butenko

Recent Rosetrees Trust-funded research published in Nature Communications has highlighted the therapeutic potential of IFN-β in chronic and non-resolving inflammation, as well as fibrotic disorders and wound repair. Specifically, IFN-β has been identified as a macrophage-derived multi-pronged effector in resolving inflammation. Dr. Amiram Ariel is funded by Rosetrees, and is the researcher who led this investigation, which was carried out at the University of Haifa.

Interestingly, this research also develops our understanding of IFN-β in anti-bacterial defence. As previously there had been considerable efforts into understanding its role in host response to viruses primarily. Therefore, Dr. Ariel and his collaborator, Prof. Filep from the University of Montreal, have not only identified the therapeutic potential of IFN-β in certain inflammatory diseases, there has been additional insight into the role of IFN-β in enhancing the eradication of bacteria during pneumonia.

Dr. Amiram Ariel

Dr. Ariel explained: “Enhancing the resolution of inflammation is a novel approach in eradicating chronic inflammatory, autoimmune and fibrotic disorders, and our studies reveal IFN-β as a potential new therapy in this arena”. The groups of Dr. Ariel and Prof. Filep discovered IFN-β is produced by specialised immune cells called macrophages following their uptake of dead neutrophils during the resolution of inflammation. IFN-β, in turn, enhances bacterial clearance from infected tissues, and expedites apoptotic death of inflammatory neutrophils, the uptake of apoptotic neutrophils by macrophages and the consequent reprogramming of these macrophages to resolution-promoting macrophages. Thus, IFN-β seems amenable in limiting unnecessary prolonged inflammation without risking the host with immune insufficiency and pathogen persistence, and harnessing its direct use or finding compounds that will enhance its production by macrophages for therapeutics purposes seems like a promising approach in the treatment of inflammatory and fibrotic disorders.

Written by: Rebecca Downing and Dr. Amiram Ariel

Macrophages that have engulfed apoptotic cells in culture.