Skip to main content


Log in

Cathelicidins - a family of multifunctional antimicrobial peptides

  • Review
  • Published:
Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS Aims and scope Submit manuscript


One component of host defence at mucosal surfaces are epithelial-derived antimicrobial peptides. Cathelicidins are one family of antimicrobial peptides characterized by conserved pro-peptide sequences that have been identified in several mammalian species. LL-37/hCAP-18 is the only cathelicidin found in humans and is expressed in inflammatory and epithelial cells. Besides their direct antimicrobial function, cathelicidins have multiple roles as mediators of inflammation influencing diverse processes such as cell proliferation and migration, immune modulation, wound healing, angiogenesis and the release of cytokines and histamine. Finally, cathelicidin antimicrobial peptides qualify as prototypes of innovative drugs that may be used to treat infection and/or modulate the immune response. This review provides an overview of antimicrobial peptides of the cathelicidin family, the structures of their genes and peptides and their biological functions.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

Received 19 July 2002; received after revision 2 October 2002; accepted 3 October 2002


ID="*"Corresponding author.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bals, R., Wilson, J. Cathelicidins - a family of multifunctional antimicrobial peptides. CMLS, Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 60, 711–720 (2003).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: