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Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Oct;7(5):413-7.

The role of human beta defensins and cathelicidins in atopic dermatitis.

Author information

  • Division of Pediatric Allergy-Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, Colorado 80206, USA. howellm@njc.org



Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease associated with significant barrier disruption, T-helper type 2 mediated skin inflammation, and an impaired innate immune response. These characteristics increase the susceptibility of atopic dermatitis patients to recurrent skin infections, some of which may have potentially fatal implications. The mechanisms resulting in this increased propensity for skin infections have been an area of active investigation.


Antimicrobial peptides are an integral component of the innate immune response due to their broad spectrum activity against invading pathogens. Recent studies have shown that these peptides are effective at killing Staphylococcus aureus, herpes simplex virus, vaccinia virus, and the Malassezia species, pathogens associated with significant morbidity in patients with atopic dermatitis. Additionally, these peptides are deficient in the skin of atopic dermatitis patients, suggesting that the increased propensity of patients towards skin infection is due to the lack of antimicrobial peptide expression.


The current review will examine recent literature on the role of antimicrobial peptides in atopic dermatitis in an effort to improve our understanding of why patients with the condition suffer from recurrent infections.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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