, Volume 144, Issue 5, pp 841-844
Date: 06 Dec 2003

A preliminary approach to epidermal antimicrobial defense in the Delphinidae

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Abstract

In three delphinid species (Pacific spotted dolphin, Stenella attenuata; common dolphin, Delphinus delphis; harbor porpoise, Phocoena phocoena) the enzyme lysozyme and the peptide group β-defensins are demonstrated for the first time in cetaceans as products of the thick integument. Lysozyme was found between the lamellae of the stratum corneum, in the cells of the stratum spinosum, free cells of the dermis, and in endothelial cells of dermal blood vessels. β-defensins (especially type 3) were clearly located in cells of the upper stratum spinosum, and concentrated between the upper five or six layers of the stratum corneum. The occurrence and localization of such substances that may serve as a non-specific defense against bacteria, fungi, algae, and ectoparasites, was known until now only for haired marine mammals with typical skin glands, like in pinnipeds.