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Curr Opin Immunol. 2007 Aug;19(4):385-91. Epub 2007 Aug 16.

Defensins in the immunology of bacterial infections.

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  • 1Michael Smith Laboratories, The University of British Columbia, 301-2185 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4.


Defensins are a component of the host response against bacterial infections. Multiple studies suggest a linked upregulation of beta-defensins and pro-inflammatory cytokines expression in various tissues, as well as the possibility of mutual induction. Recent data demonstrate the importance of nucleotide-binding oligomerization proteins for the expression of defensins, and associate low levels of alpha-defensins expression by intestinal Paneth cells with susceptibility to Crohn's disease of the ileum. A novel anti-toxin activity has been identified for several alpha- and theta-defensins, expanding the repertoire of the antimicrobial functions of defensins. It has been shown that bacterial proteins can inactivate the action of defensins, and that pathogen type III secretion systems (T3SS) manipulate defensins expression via T3SS-mediated inhibition of the NF-kappaB pathway.

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