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Trends Microbiol. 2004 Aug;12(8):394-8.

The role of Paneth cells and their antimicrobial peptides in innate host defense.

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Department of Internal Medicine III, Asahikawa Medical College, 2-1-1-1 Midorigaoka-Higashi, Asahikawa 078-8510, Japan.


The intestinal epithelium is the largest surface area that is exposed to various pathogens in the environment, however, in contrast to the colon the number of bacteria that colonize the small intestine is extremely low. Paneth cells, one of four major epithelial cell lineages in the small intestine, reside at the base of the crypts and have apically oriented secretory granules. These granules contain high levels of antimicrobial peptides that belong to the alpha-defensin family. Paneth cells secrete these microbicidal granules that contain alpha-defensins when exposed ex vivo to bacteria or their antigens, and recent evidence reveals that antimicrobial peptides, particularly alpha-defensins, that are present in Paneth cells contribute to intestinal innate host defense.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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