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Human Defensins: Potential Tools for Clinical Applications

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Author(s): Jochen Winter | Matthias Wenghoefer

Journal: Polymers
ISSN 2073-4360

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 691;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: AMP | human defensins | immunemodulation | wound healing | cancer | clinical application

ABSTRACT
As components of the innate immune system, antimicrobial peptides in the form of human defensins play an important role in host defense by serving as the epithelial layer’s biochemical barrier against local infections. Recent studies have shown these molecules to have far more additional cellular functions besides their antimicrobial activity. Defensins play a role in cell division, attraction and maturation of immune cells, differentiation and reorganization of epithelial tissues, wound healing and tumor suppression. This multitude of function makes human defensins appear to be excellent tools for therapeutic approaches. These antimicrobial peptides may be used directly as a remedy against bacterial and viral infections. Furthermore, the application of human defensins can be used to promote wound healing and epithelial reorganization. In particular, human β-defensins have a strong impact on osteoblast proliferation and differentiation. Human β-defensins have already been applied as a vaccination against HIV-1. Another potentially useful characteristic of defensins is their suitability as diagnostic markers in cancer therapy. In particular, α-defensins have already been used for this purpose. Human α-defensin-3, for example, has been described as a tumor marker for lymphocytes. High gene expression levels of α-defensin-3 and -4 have been detected in benign oral neoplasia, α-defensin-6 is considered to be a tumor marker for colon cancer.
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