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Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2003 Nov;22(5):465-78.

Antimicrobial peptides in animals and their role in host defences.

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Respiratory Diseases of Livestock Research Unit, US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Animal Disease Center, PO Box 70, Ames, Iowa 50010, USA.


Domesticated animals have a large variety of antimicrobial peptides that serve as natural innate barriers limiting microbial infection or, in some instances, act as an integral component in response to inflammation or microbial infection. These peptides differ in size, composition, mechanisms of activity and range of antimicrobial specificities. They are expressed in many tissues, polymorphonuclear leukocytes, macrophages and mucosal epithelial cells. There is a small group of anionic antimicrobial peptides found in ruminants and a much larger group of cationic antimicrobial peptides found in all domesticated animals. The cationic peptides include linear, helical peptides, linear peptides rich in proline and cysteine-stabilized peptides with a beta-sheet and are commonly referred to as cathelicidins and defensins. These peptides are generally broad-spectrum for Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria and fungi (e.g. myeloid antimicrobial peptides, alpha-, beta-defensins, and protegrins) or are specific to one of these groups (e.g. porcine cecropin P1, Bac5, Bac7, PR-39 and prophenin).

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