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Polymers 2011, 3(3), 1268-1281; doi:10.3390/polym3031268
Review

Defensins: Potential Effectors in Autoimmune Rheumatic Disorders

*  and
Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Rheumatology, Heinrich-Heine-University, Moorenstr. 5, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 June 2011 / Revised: 29 July 2011 / Accepted: 10 August 2011 / Published: 11 August 2011
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Abstract

Defensins are small cationic peptides with antimicrobial properties. They constitute a highly conserved innate immune defense mechanism across species. Based on the arrangement of disulfide-bonds, α- and β-defensins are distinguished in humans. Both types of defensin comprise several distinct molecules that are preferentially expressed at epithelial surfaces and in blood cells. In the last decade, multiple immunomodulatory functions of defensins have been recognized, including chemotactic activity, the promotion of antigen presentation, and modulations of proinflammatory cytokine secretion. These findings suggested a role for defensins not only as a first line of defense, but also as connectors of innate and adaptive immune responses. Recently, increasingly accumulating evidence has indicated that defensins may also be involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune rheumatic disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. The current review summarizes the data connecting defensins to autoimmunity.
Keywords: defensin; antimicrobial peptide; rheumatology; autoimmune disease defensin; antimicrobial peptide; rheumatology; autoimmune disease
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.

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Vordenbäumen, S.; Schneider, M. Defensins: Potential Effectors in Autoimmune Rheumatic Disorders. Polymers 2011, 3, 1268-1281.

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