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Polymers 2012, 4(1), 691-709; doi:10.3390/polym4010691

Human Defensins: Potential Tools for Clinical Applications

1,*  and 2
1 Department of Periodontology, Operative and Preventive Dentistry, University of Bonn, Welschnonnenstr. 17, D-53111 Bonn, Germany 2 Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Plastic Surgery, University of Bonn, Welschnonnenstr. 17, D-53111 Bonn, Germany
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 January 2012 / Revised: 31 January 2012 / Accepted: 10 February 2012 / Published: 28 February 2012
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As components of the innate immune system, antimicrobial peptides in the form of human defensins play an important role in host defense by serving as the epithelial layer’s biochemical barrier against local infections. Recent studies have shown these molecules to have far more additional cellular functions besides their antimicrobial activity. Defensins play a role in cell division, attraction and maturation of immune cells, differentiation and reorganization of epithelial tissues, wound healing and tumor suppression. This multitude of function makes human defensins appear to be excellent tools for therapeutic approaches. These antimicrobial peptides may be used directly as a remedy against bacterial and viral infections. Furthermore, the application of human defensins can be used to promote wound healing and epithelial reorganization. In particular, human β-defensins have a strong impact on osteoblast proliferation and differentiation. Human β-defensins have already been applied as a vaccination against HIV-1. Another potentially useful characteristic of defensins is their suitability as diagnostic markers in cancer therapy. In particular, α-defensins have already been used for this purpose. Human α-defensin-3, for example, has been described as a tumor marker for lymphocytes. High gene expression levels of α-defensin-3 and -4 have been detected in benign oral neoplasia, α-defensin-6 is considered to be a tumor marker for colon cancer.
Keywords: AMP; human defensins; immunemodulation; wound healing; cancer; clinical application AMP; human defensins; immunemodulation; wound healing; cancer; clinical application
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Winter, J.; Wenghoefer, M. Human Defensins: Potential Tools for Clinical Applications. Polymers 2012, 4, 691-709.

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