Type I interferon (IFN) is a class of proinflammatory cytokines with a dual role on malignant transformation, tumor progression, and response to therapy. On the one hand, robust, acute, and resolving type I IFN responses have been shown to mediate prominent anticancer effects, reflecting not only their direct cytostatic/cytotoxic activity on (at least some) malignant cells, but also their pronounced immunostimulatory functions. In line with this notion, type I IFN signaling has been implicated in the antineoplastic effects of various immunogenic therapeutics, including (but not limited to) immunogenic cell death (ICD)-inducing agents and immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). On the other hand, weak, indolent, and non-resolving type I IFN responses have been demonstrated to support tumor progression and resistance to therapy, reflecting the ability of suboptimal type I IFN signaling to mediate cytoprotective activity, promote stemness, favor tolerance to chromosomal instability, and facilitate the establishment of an immunologically exhausted tumor microenvironment. Here, we review fundamental aspects of type I IFN signaling and their context-dependent impact on malignant transformation, tumor progression, and response to therapy.
- apoptotic cell death
- immunogenic cell death
- interferon-stimulated genes
- pattern recognition receptors