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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Jan 19;96(2):651-6.

Mechanisms for induction of acquired host immunity by neutrophil peptide defensins.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Alabama, 273A BBRB, 845 19th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294-2170, USA.


Human neutrophil peptide (HNP) defensins were studied to determine their potential effects on adaptive mucosal immunity. Intranasal delivery of HNPs plus ovalbumin (OVA) enhanced OVA-specific serum IgG antibody (Ab) responses. However, OVA-specific IgA Abs were not induced in mucosal secretions or in serum. CD4(+) T cells of intranasally immunized mice displayed higher OVA-specific proliferative responses and elevated production of interferon gamma, interleukin (IL) 5, IL-6, and IL-10 when compared with control groups receiving OVA alone. In vitro, HNPs also enhanced both proliferative responses and T helper (Th) cytokine secretion profiles of CD3epsilon-stimulated spleen- and Peyer's patch-derived naive CD4(+) T cells. HNPs modulated the expression of costimulatory molecules by lipopolysaccharide- or CD3epsilon-stimulated splenic and Peyer's patch B or T cell populations, respectively. These studies show that defensins enhance systemic IgG, but not IgA, Ab responses through help provided by CD4(+) Th1- and Th2-type cytokines and foster B and T cell interactions to link innate immunity with the adaptive immune system.

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