The initial observations that cortisone may act as an inhibitor of viral interference (11, 4) are now explicable as an inhibitory effect on interferon synthesis. The suggestion that the action of interferon is also inhibited by cortisone or its analogues (6) has not been confirmed in a plaque reduction type of interferon assay system in which autointerference by the challenge inoculum is a lesser problem. In this respect, the present results are in accord with those obtained by DeMaeyer and DeMaeyer (8) with hydrocortisone in a system in which a low multiplicity (0.1) Sindbis virus infection in monolayer culture was employed with cytopathic effect (CPE) as an end-point. It has been shown that hydrocortisone is restrictive to the synthesis of interferon induced by inoculation of either infective or inactivated virus into the chick embryo, and that this inhibitory effect is temporary. However, in another study in the chick embryo, three spaced injections of hydrocortisone (0.25 mg/dose) prevented the appearance of detectable interferon during the entire 64 hr observation period following inoculation of 103.3 EID50 of Lee virus (12).
The importance of explicit definition of experimental conditions in assessing hormonal effects on infection is illustrated by the capacity of hydrocortisone either to inhibit or increase interferon synthesis in vitro, depending on the proportion of inactivated and infective virus in the inoculum employed, and the time at which interferon is measured. As suggested previously, it is not unlikely that similar shifts in hormone-virus-interferon balance may operate in vivo to influence the outcome of infection.