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Mol Immunol. 2007 Mar;44(9):2446-58. Epub 2006 Nov 20.

A member of the cathelicidin family of antimicrobial peptides is produced in the upper airway of the chinchilla and its mRNA expression is altered by common viral and bacterial co-pathogens of otitis media.

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  • 1Columbus Children's Research Institute, Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and The Ohio State University College of Medicine & Public Health, 700 Children's Drive, Rm. W591, Columbus, OH 43205, USA.


Cationic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), a component of the innate immune system, play a major role in defense of mucosal surfaces against a wide spectrum of microorganisms such as viral and bacterial co-pathogens of the polymicrobial disease otitis media (OM). To further understand the role of AMPs in OM, we cloned a cDNA encoding a cathelicidin homolog (cCRAMP) from upper respiratory tract (URT) mucosae of the chinchilla, the predominant host used to model experimental OM. Recombinant cCRAMP exhibited alpha-helical secondary structure and killed the three main bacterial pathogens of OM. In situ hybridization showed cCRAMP mRNA production in epithelium of the chinchilla Eustachian tube and RT-PCR was used to amplify cCRAMP mRNA from several other tissues of the chinchilla URT. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis of chinchilla middle ear epithelial cells (CMEEs) incubated with either viral (influenza A virus, adenovirus, or RSV) or bacterial (nontypeable H. influenzae, M. catarrhalis, or S. pneumoniae) pathogens associated with OM demonstrated distinct microbe-specific patterns of altered expression. Collectively, these data showed that viruses and bacteria modulate AMP messages in the URT, which likely contributes to the disease course of OM.

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