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Defensins: Potential Effectors in Autoimmune Rheumatic Disorders

Author(s): Stefan Vordenbäumen | Matthias Schneider

Journal: Polymers
ISSN 2073-4360

Volume: 3;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 1268;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: defensin | antimicrobial peptide | rheumatology | autoimmune disease

Defensins are small cationic peptides with antimicrobial properties. They constitute a highly conserved innate immune defense mechanism across species. Based on the arrangement of disulfide-bonds, α- and β-defensins are distinguished in humans. Both types of defensin comprise several distinct molecules that are preferentially expressed at epithelial surfaces and in blood cells. In the last decade, multiple immunomodulatory functions of defensins have been recognized, including chemotactic activity, the promotion of antigen presentation, and modulations of proinflammatory cytokine secretion. These findings suggested a role for defensins not only as a first line of defense, but also as connectors of innate and adaptive immune responses. Recently, increasingly accumulating evidence has indicated that defensins may also be involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune rheumatic disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. The current review summarizes the data connecting defensins to autoimmunity.
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