The IRF5 (IFN-regulatory factor 5) gene increases IFN-alpha, a signaling protein, released by host cells in response to the presence of several viruses. In a typical scenario, a virus-infected cell will release interferons causing nearby cells to heighten their anti-viral defenses.
IFNs belong to the large class of proteins known as cytokines, molecules used for communication between cells to trigger the protective defenses of the immune system that help eradicate pathogens. Interferons are named for their ability to "interfere" with viral replication by protecting cells from virus infections. Certain symptoms of infections, such as fever, muscle pain and "flu-like symptoms", are also caused by the production of IFNs and other cytokines.
In addition, Interferon alpha induces the kynurenine pathway. The kynurenine pathway is a metabolic pathway leading to the production of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) from the degradation of the essential amino acid tryptophan.
The C-allele is the risk allele in this gene and can be found in 6% of the population and has been linked to Lupus. It is important for you to be aware of which therapies and choices can decrease IRF5 activity. Omega 3 found in grass-fed beef, avocado and organic, raw nuts have been associated with decreased activity.