Antimicrobial Peptides as First-Line Effector Molecules of the Human Innate Immune System
Findings of the past two decades clearly document that epithelial cells have the capacity to mount a “chemical barrier” apart from the physical defense shield against invading microorganisms. This “chemical barrier” includes preformed antimicrobial proteins present at the uppermost layers of the epithelium as well as newly synthesized compounds that are produced upon stimulation after contact with pathogenic bacteria or bacterial products, endogenous proinflammatory cytokines and/or the disruption of the physical barrier by wounding with subsequently released growth factors. This chapter introduces the reader into the field by giving an overview of the most important human epithelial and phagocyte derived anti-microbial peptides. Furthermore, strategies for the putative action of antimicrobial peptides in the healthy human are presented. The third part of the review gives an overview of several diseases which are in connection with a decreased or impaired antimicrobial peptide expression: skin diseases and wound healing, diseases of the airway epithelia and the gastrointestinal tract as well as diseases associated with phagocyte dysfunction. Exogenous application of antimicrobial peptides could be a promising therapeutic option in the near future for the treatment of patients with epithelial infections and chronic wounds but a much more promising option would be the promotion of the endogenous expression of antimicrobial peptides.
KeywordsAtopic Dermatitis Stratum Corneum Antimicrobial Peptide Paneth Cell Secretory Leukocyte Protease Inhibitor
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