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J Biol Chem. 1997 Jun 13;272(24):15258-63.

The expression of the gene coding for the antibacterial peptide LL-37 is induced in human keratinocytes during inflammatory disorders.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, S-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


The epithelia constitute a major barrier to the environment and provide the first line of defense against invading microbes. Antimicrobial peptides are emerging as participants in the defense system of epithelial barriers in general. Originally we isolated the human antimicrobial peptide LL-37 from granulocytes. The gene (CAMP or cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide) coding for this peptide belongs to the cathelicidin family, whose members contain a conserved pro-part of the cathelin type. The human genome seems to have only one gene of this family, whereas some mammalian species have several cathelicidin genes. In the present work we demonstrate up-regulation of this human cathelicidin gene in inflammatory skin disorders, whereas in normal skin no induction was found. By in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry the transcript and the peptide were located in keratinocytes throughout the epidermis of the inflammatory regions. In addition, the peptide was detected in partially pure fractions derived from psoriatic scales by immunoblotting. These fractions also exhibited antibacterial activity. We propose a protective role for LL-37, when the integrity of the skin barrier is damaged, participating in the first line of defense, and preventing local infection and systemic invasion of microbes.

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