Parasiticidal activity of human α-defensin-5 against Toxoplasma gondii

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Human defensins play a fundamental role in the initiation of innate immune responses to some microbial pathogens. In this paper, we show that human α-defensin-5 displays a parasiticidal role against Toxoplasma gondii, the causative agent of toxoplasmosis. Exposure of the tachyzoite form of T. gondii to defensin induced aggregation and significantly reduced parasite viability in a concentration-dependent peptide. Pre-incubation of tachyzoites with human α-defensin-5 followed by exposure to a mouse embryonal cell line (NIH/3T3) significantly reduced T. gondii infection in these cells. Thus, human α-defensin-5 is an innate immune molecule that causes severe toxocity to T. gondii and plays an important role in reducing cellular infection. This is the first report showing that human α-defensin-5 causes aggregation, leading to Toxoplasma destruction.

Editor: J. Denry Sato