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Eplasty. 2009 Dec 26;10:e6.

Upregulation of defensins in burn sheep small intestine.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas Medical School, Houston, USA.



The aim of this study was to visualize and localize the sheep antimicrobials, beta-defensins 1, 2, and 3, (SBD-1, SBD-2, SBD-3), sheep neutrophil defensin alpha (SNP-1), and the cathelicidin LL-37 in sheep small intestine after burn injury, our hypothesis being that these compounds would be upregulated in an effort to overcome a compromised endothelial lining. Response to burn injury includes the release of proinflammatory cytokines and systemic immune suppression that, if untreated, can progress to multiple organ failure and death, so protective mechanisms have to be initiated and implemented.


Tissue sections were probed with antibodies to the antimicrobials and then visualized with fluorescently labeled secondary antibodies and subjected to fluorescence deconvolution microscopy and image reconstruction.


In both the sham and burn samples, all the aforementioned antimicrobials were seen in each of the layers of small intestine, the highest concentration being localized to the epithelium. SBD-2, SBD-3, and SNP-1 were upregulated in both enterocytes and Paneth cells, while SNP-1 and LL-37 showed increases in both the inner circular and outer longitudinal muscle layers of the muscularis externa following burn injury. Each of the defensins, except SBD-1, was also seen in between the muscle layers of the externa and while burn caused slight increases of SBD-2, SBD-3, and SNP-1 in this location, LL-37 content was significantly decreased.


That while each of these human antimicrobials is present in multiple layers of sheep small intestine, SBD-2, SBD-3, SNP-1, and LL-37 are upregulated in the specific layers of the small intestine.


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