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J Invest Dermatol. 2005 Jul;125(1):108-15.

Anti-fungal activity of cathelicidins and their potential role in Candida albicans skin infection.

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Division of Dermatology, University of California San Diego, and VA San Diego Healthcare Center, San Diego, California 92161, USA.


Cathelicidins have broad anti-microbial capacity and are important for host defense against skin infections by some bacterial and viral pathogens. This study investigated the activity of cathelicidins against Candida albicans. The human cathelicidin LL-37, and mouse cathelicidin mCRAMP, killed C. albicans, but this fungicidal activity was dependent on culture conditions. Evaluation of the fungal membrane by fluorescent dye penetration after incubation with cathelicidins correlated membrane permeabilization and inhibition of fungal growth. Anti-fungal assays carried out in an ionic environment that mimicked human sweat and with the processed forms of cathelicidin such as are present in sweat found that the cleavage of LL-37 to forms such as RK-31 conferred additional activity against C. albicans. C. albicans also induced an increase in the expression of cathelicidin in mouse skin, but this induction did not confer systemic or subcutaneous resistance as mCRAMP-deficient mice were not more susceptible to C. albicans in blood-killing assays or in an intradermal infection model. Therefore, cathelicidins appear active against C. albicans, but may be most effective as a superficial barrier to infection.

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