Biological roles of host defense peptides: lessons from transgenic animals and bioengineered tissues
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- Dybvig, T., Facci, M., Gerdts, V. et al. Cell Tissue Res (2011) 343: 213. doi:10.1007/s00441-010-1075-4
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Host defense peptides (HDPs) have long been recognized as microbicidal agents, but their roles as modulators of innate and adaptive immunity have only more recently been appreciated. The study of transgenic animal and tissue models has provided platforms to improve our understanding of the immune modulatory functions of HDPs. Here, the characterization of transgenic animals or tissue models that over-express and/or are deficient for specific HDPs is reviewed. We also attempt to reconcile this data with evidence from human studies monitoring HDP expression at constitutive levels and/or in conjunction with inflammation, infection models, or disease states. We have excluded activities ascribed to HDPs derived exclusively from in vitro experiments. An appreciation of the way that HDPs promote innate immunity or influence the adaptive immune response is necessary in order to exploit their therapeutic or adjuvant potential and to open new perspectives in understanding the basis of immunity. The potential applications for HDPs are discussed.