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Hum Gene Ther. 1999 Apr 10;10(6):957-64.

Epithelial defensins impair adenoviral infection: implication for adenovirus-mediated gene therapy.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine II, University Hospital Frankfurt, Germany.


Epithelial cells have been to participate actively in host defense by producing small cationic peptides called defensins. To investigate the biological activity of epithelial defensins in more detail, we expressed two defensins, hBD-1 and HD-5, in eukaryotic cell lines. Defensins were localized in the cytoplasm and in cell culture medium and exhibited strong microbicidal activity toward Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus. Moreover, our data indicate that the presence of defensins protected the cells from adenoviral infection. The presence of HD-5 or hBD-1 reduced the infectivity of Av1CF2 three- to fivefold. These results imply that defensins must be considered a serious obstacle whenever adenovirus is used to deliver genes to epithelial cells.

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