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Mol Immunol. 2009 Aug;46(13):2449-55. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2009.05.028. Epub 2009 Jul 2.

Altered cutaneous expression of beta-defensins in dogs with atopic dermatitis.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


Canine atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic allergic skin disorder with an immunopathogenesis comparable to that in humans with AD. The high frequency of recurrent infections with Staphylococcus pseudo intermedius and Malassezia pachydermatis may indicate a defective innate immune response in the skin of atopic dogs. Production of beta-defensins constitutes an important role in skin defense but information on canine beta-defensin localization and regulation is scarce. We conducted a gene-expression study of 16 canine beta-defensins (cBDs) in 11 tissues of healthy dogs, which revealed a variable expression of cBDs in different organ systems of the dog. In skin, three beta-defensins, cBD1, cBD103 and cBD107, were extensively expressed, while inconsistent expression of five other beta-defensins was detected. Using immunohistochemistry abundant expression of cBD103 peptide was detected in the epidermis, hair follicles and sebaceous glands, comparable to hBD3 expression in human skin. To examine the gene-expression of beta-defensins in atopic dogs, full thickness skin biopsy specimens (non-lesional and lesional) of 10 atopic dogs and 7 healthy dogs were examined with real-time PCR. A significant 12-fold increased expression of cBD1 was detected in lesional atopic skin compared to healthy skin, while non-lesional skin showed a 5-fold increase. Contrary to cBD1, expression of cBD103 was slightly (2-fold) downregulated in skin of atopic dogs. Gene-expression levels of S100A8, a marker for atopic dermatitis, were also highly upregulated in skin of atopic dogs, confirming the diagnostics of the skin biopsies. Taken together these results provide new evidence for a possible defect in the innate immune response of dogs with atopic dermatitis, and indicate the potential of the dog as a model for human AD.

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