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Nat Immunol. 2010 Jan;11(1):76-83. doi: 10.1038/ni.1825. Epub 2009 Oct 22.

Enteric defensins are essential regulators of intestinal microbial ecology.

Author information

  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. nsalzman@mcw.edu

Abstract

Antimicrobial peptides are important effectors of innate immunity throughout the plant and animal kingdoms. In the mammalian small intestine, Paneth cell alpha-defensins are antimicrobial peptides that contribute to host defense against enteric pathogens. To determine if alpha-defensins also govern intestinal microbial ecology, we analyzed the intestinal microbiota of mice expressing a human alpha-defensin gene (DEFA5) and in mice lacking an enzyme required for the processing of mouse alpha-defensins. In these complementary models, we detected significant alpha-defensin-dependent changes in microbiota composition, but not in total bacterial numbers. Furthermore, DEFA5-expressing mice had striking losses of segmented filamentous bacteria and fewer interleukin 17 (IL-17)-producing lamina propria T cells. Our data ascribe a new homeostatic role to alpha-defensins in regulating the makeup of the commensal microbiota.

Comment in

  • Defensins keep the peace too. [Nat Immunol. 2010]
PMID:
19855381
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2795796
Free PMC Article

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