Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 343, Issue 1, pp 175-188

First online:

Defensins in innate immunity

  • Linda HazlettAffiliated withAnatomy/Cell Biology, Wayne State University Email author 
  • , Minhao WuAffiliated withAnatomy/Cell Biology, Wayne State University

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The innate immune system is the first line of defense against many common microorganisms, which can initiate adaptive immune responses to provide increased protection against subsequent re-infection by the same pathogen. As a major family of antimicrobial peptides, defensins are widely expressed in a variety of epithelial cells and sometimes in leukocytes, playing an important role in the innate immune system due to their antimicrobial, chemotactic and regulatory activities. This review introduces their structure, classification, distribution, synthesis, and focuses on their biological activities and mechanisms, as well as clinical relevance. These studies of defensins in the innate immune system have implications for the prevention and treatment of a variety of infectious diseases, including bacterial ocular disease.


Defensins Antimicrobial activity Inflammation Ocular immunity Clinical significance