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PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22049. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022049. Epub 2011 Jul 19.

Differential cathelicidin expression in duodenal and gastric biopsies from Tanzanian and German patients.

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  • 1Department of Medicine II, University of Wuerzburg, Wuerzburg, Germany.



Epithelial surfaces such as the gastrointestinal mucosa depend on expression of antimicrobial peptides like cathelicidin for immune defence against pathogens. The mechanisms behind mucosal cathelicidin regulation are incompletely understood.


Cathelicidin expression was analysed in duodenal, antral and corpus/fundic mucosal biopsies from African and German patients. Additionally, cathelicidin expression was correlated with Helicobacter pylori (HP) infection and the inflammatory status of the mucosa.


High cathelicidin transcript abundance was detected in duodenal biopsies from African subjects. On the contrary, cathelicidin mRNA expression was either undetectable or very low in tissue specimens from German patients. Also, in the antrum and corpus/fundus regions of the stomach significantly higher cathelicidin transcript levels were measured in Tanzanian compared to German patients. In gastric biopsies from African patients cathelicidin expression was increased in HP positive compared to HP negative subjects. Additionally, the inflammatory status measured by IL-8 expression correlated well with the HP infection status.


A higher duodenal and gastric cathelicidin expression in African (compared with European) individuals may be due to upregulation by antigenic stimulation and may confer a higher resistance against enteric infections.

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