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Z Gastroenterol. 2012 Nov;50(11):1171-5. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1312865. Epub 2012 Nov 13.

[Human beta-defensin 1: from defence to offence].

[Article in German]

Author information

Dr. Margarete Fischer-Bosch-Institut für Klinische Pharmakologie, Auerbachstrabe 112, 70376 Stuttgart, Germany.


The human gut is colonised by about one kilogram of commensal bacteria. These microorganisms are a potential threat, thus an efficient defence system is crucial in preventing bacterial translocation and infection. Besides other mechanisms of protection humans produce antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) that are able to kill a broad range of microorganisms. The human beta-defensin 1 (hBD-1) plays a major role because it is produced constitutively by all human epithelia and some immune cells. In contrast to other AMPs, however, the biological function of hBD-1 has remained unclear since the antibiotic activity of hBD-1 in vitro was only marginal. But still, several diseases have been associated with genetic polymorphisms in the hBD-1 encoding gene. Herein we discuss why the biological role of hBD-1 has been overlooked and how hBD-1 can be activated by chemical reduction. We elaborate on the biological significance of this activation and its importance for inflammatory bowel disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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