Pharmaceuticals 2014, 7(3), 251-264; doi:10.3390/ph7030251
Review

Lucifensins, the Insect Defensins of Biomedical Importance: The Story behind Maggot Therapy

1,* email and 2email
Received: 10 December 2013; in revised form: 12 February 2014 / Accepted: 20 February 2014 / Published: 27 February 2014
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Abstract: Defensins are the most widespread antimicrobial peptides characterised in insects. These cyclic peptides, 4–6 kDa in size, are folded into α-helical/β-sheet mixed structures and have a common conserved motif of three intramolecular disulfide bridges with a Cys1-Cys4, Cys2-Cys5 and Cys3-Cys6 connectivity. They have the ability to kill especially Gram-positive bacteria and some fungi, but Gram-negative bacteria are more resistant against them. Among them are the medicinally important compounds lucifensin and lucifensin II, which have recently been identified in the medicinal larvae of the blowflies Lucilia sericata and Lucilia cuprina, respectively. These defensins contribute to wound healing during a procedure known as maggot debridement therapy (MDT) which is routinely used at hospitals worldwide. Here we discuss the decades-long story of the effort to isolate and characterise these two defensins from the bodies of medicinal larvae or from their secretions/excretions. Furthermore, our previous studies showed that the free-range larvae of L. sericata acutely eliminated most of the Gram-positive strains of bacteria and some Gram-negative strains in patients with infected diabetic foot ulcers, but MDT was ineffective during the healing of wounds infected with Pseudomonas sp. and Acinetobacter sp. The bactericidal role of lucifensins secreted into the infected wound by larvae during MDT and its ability to enhance host immunity by functioning as immunomodulator is also discussed.
Keywords: antimicrobial peptide; insect defensin; lucifensin; maggot therapy; Lucilia sericata; Lucilia cuprina; peptide isolation; peptide identification
PDF Full-text Download PDF Full-Text [715 KB, uploaded 27 February 2014 13:25 CET]

Export to BibTeX |
EndNote


MDPI and ACS Style

Čeřovský, V.; Bém, R. Lucifensins, the Insect Defensins of Biomedical Importance: The Story behind Maggot Therapy. Pharmaceuticals 2014, 7, 251-264.

AMA Style

Čeřovský V, Bém R. Lucifensins, the Insect Defensins of Biomedical Importance: The Story behind Maggot Therapy. Pharmaceuticals. 2014; 7(3):251-264.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Čeřovský, Václav; Bém, Robert. 2014. "Lucifensins, the Insect Defensins of Biomedical Importance: The Story behind Maggot Therapy." Pharmaceuticals 7, no. 3: 251-264.

Pharmaceuticals EISSN 1424-8247 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert