Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 15-26

Innate Immunity: A Cutaneous Perspective

  • Heidi GoodarziAffiliated withDivision of Dermatology, University of CaliforniaHarvard Medical School
  • , Janet TrowbridgeAffiliated withDivision of Dermatology, University of California
  • , Richard L. GalloAffiliated withDivision of Dermatology, University of California Email author 

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The first responsibility for protection against microbial infection rests on the normal function of the innate immune system. This system establishes an antimicrobial barrier, recognizes attempts to breach this barrier, and responds rapidly to danger, all based on an innate defense system. Here, we review this system as it applies to mammalian skin, highlighting how a physical, cellular, and chemical barrier is formed to resist infection. When challenged, the diverse cellular components of the skin recognize the nature of the challenge and respond with an appropriate antimicrobial program including the release of antimicrobial peptides and, when necessary, recruitment and coordination with adaptive immune responses. Recent insights into these processes have advanced the understanding of disease pathogenesis and provided new therapeutic options for a variety of skin diseases.


Cutaneous immune defense mechanisms Innate immunity Adaptive immunity