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1.  A Model for Antimicrobial Gene Therapy: Demonstration of Human β-Defensin 2 Antimicrobial Activities In Vivo 
Human gene therapy  2002;13(17):2017-2025.
We transfected host cells with an antimicrobial peptide/protein-encoding gene as a way to enhance host defense mechanisms against infection. The human b-defensin 2 (HBD-2) gene was chosen as a model because its protein does not require cell type-specific processing. Using a retroviral vector carrying HBD-2 cDNA, we treated several mouse or human cell lines and primary cell cultures including fibroblasts, salivary gland cells, endothelial cells, and T cells. All transduced cells produced detectable HBD-2. In Escherichia coli gel overlay experiments, secreted HBD-2 from selected cell lines showed potent antimicrobial activity electrophoretically identical to that of purified HBD-2. We then used a mouse model (nonobese diabetic/severely compromised immunodeficient [NOD/SCID]) to test HBD-2 antimicrobial activities in vivo. HT-1080 cells carrying HBD-2 or control vector were implanted subcutaneously into NOD/SCID mice to allow tumor formation. Escherichia coli was then injected into each tumor mass. Tumors were resected after 16 hr and homogenized for bacterial colony-forming unit analysis. Compared with control tumors, HBD-2-bearing tumors contained only 7.8 6 3.3% viable bacteria. On the basis of this demonstration of HBD-2 in vivo antimicrobial activity, enhancement of antibacterial host defense by HBD-2 gene therapy may be feasible.
PMCID: PMC1790959  PMID: 12489997
2.  Production of β-Defensin Antimicrobial Peptides by the Oral Mucosa and Salivary Glands 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(6):2740-2745.
β-Defensins are cationic peptides with broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity that are produced by epithelia at mucosal surfaces. Two human β-defensins, HBD-1 and HBD-2, were discovered in 1995 and 1997, respectively. However, little is known about the expression of HBD-1 or HBD-2 in tissues of the oral cavity and whether these proteins are secreted. In this study, we characterized the expression of HBD-1 and HBD-2 mRNAs within the major salivary glands, tongue, gingiva, and buccal mucosa and detected β-defensin peptides in salivary secretions. Defensin mRNA expression was quantitated by RNase protection assays. HBD-1 mRNA expression was detected in the gingiva, parotid gland, buccal mucosa, and tongue. Expression of HBD-2 mRNA was detected only in the gingival mucosa and was most abundant in tissues with associated inflammation. To test whether β-defensin expression was inducible, gingival keratinocyte cell cultures were treated with interleukin-1β (IL-1β) or bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) for 24 h. HBD-2 expression increased ∼16-fold with IL-1β treatment and ∼5-fold in the presence of LPS. Western immunoblotting, liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry were used to identify the HBD-1 and HBD-2 peptides in human saliva. Human β-defensins are expressed in oral tissues, and the proteins are secreted in saliva; HBD-1 expression was constitutive, while HBD-2 expression was induced by IL-1β and LPS. Human β-defensins may play an important role in the innate defenses against oral microorganisms.
PMCID: PMC96577  PMID: 10338476
3.  Capacity of human β-defensin expression in gene-transduced and cytokine-induced cells✩ 
The purpose of this study was to determine the capacity of cells transduced with human β-defensins (HBDs) to express antimicrobial peptides, since sufficient expression level is required for effective antimicrobial activity. Retroviral vector pBabeNeo and lentiviral vector SIN18cPPTRhMLV (SIN18) carrying HBDs were utilized to transduce non-HBD-expressing cells such as fibroblasts or HBD-producing oral epithelial cells. We found that HBD-3 gene transfer to fibroblasts was possible not via retrovirus but by direct vector transfection. SIN18 had high transduction efficiencies (80.9–99.9%) and transduced cells expressed higher amounts of HBD-2 than those by pBabe-Neo. Primary human gingival epithelial cells (HGECs) expressed greater amounts of HBD-2 than primary fibroblasts after lentiviral transduction. Additionally, HBD-2 secretion from transduced HGECs cells was further increased when stimulated with IL-1 or TNFα. Our data indicate that while HBD-2 expression is limited in primary fibroblasts, its expression in HGECs may be maximized by gene transduction plus cytokine induction.
PMCID: PMC3282591  PMID: 16298338
HBD-2; HBD-3; Lentiviral vectors; Retroviral vectors; IL-1; TNFα; Gingival epithelial cells
4.  Human β-Defensins 2 and 3 Demonstrate Strain-Selective Activity against Oral Microorganisms 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(3):1024-1029.
Human β-defensins 2 and 3 (HBD-2 and HBD-3) are inducible peptides present at sites of infection in the oral cavity. A few studies have reported broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity for both peptides. However, no comprehensive study has thoroughly investigated their potential against oral pathogens. The purpose of this study was to test the effectiveness of HBD-2 and HBD-3 against a collection of oral organisms (Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Peptostreptococcus micros, Actinomyces naeslundii, Actinomyces israelii, Streptococcus sanguis, Streptococcus mutans, Candida tropicalis, Candida parapsilosis, Candida krusei, Candida glabrata, and Candida albicans). Radial diffusion assays were used to test HBD-2 and HBD-3 activities against at least three strains of each species. There was significant variability in MICs, which was strain specific rather than species specific. MICs ranged from 3.9 to >250 μg/ml for HBD-2 and from 1.4 to >250 μg/ml for HBD-3. HBD-3 demonstrated greater antimicrobial activity and was effective against a broader array of organisms. Overall, aerobes were 100% susceptible to HBD-2 and HBD-3, whereas only 21.4 and 50% of the anaerobes were susceptible to HBD-2 and HBD-3, respectively. HBD-2 and HBD-3 also demonstrated strain-specific activity against the Candida species evaluated. Interestingly, an association between HBD-2 and HBD-3 activities was noted. This suggests that the two peptides may have similar mechanisms yet utilize distinct pathways. The lack of activity against specific anaerobic strains and Candida warrants further investigation of the potential resistance mechanisms of these organisms. Finally, the significant variability between strains underlies the importance of testing multiple strains when evaluating activities of antimicrobial peptides.
PMCID: PMC356847  PMID: 15004048
5.  Oral Antimicrobial Peptides and Biological Control of Caries 
BMC Oral Health  2006;6(Suppl 1):S13.
The presence of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in saliva may be a biological factor that contributes to susceptibility or resistance to caries. This manuscript will review AMPs in saliva, consider their antimicrobial and immunomodulatory functions, and evaluate their potential role in the oral cavity for protection of the tooth surface as well as the oral mucosa. These AMPs are made in salivary gland and duct cells and have broad antimicrobial activity. Alpha-defensins and LL37 are also released by neutrophils into the gingival crevicular fluid. Both sources may account for their presence in saliva. A recent study in middle school children aimed to determine a possible correlation between caries prevalence in children and salivary concentrations of the antimicrobial peptides human beta-defensin-3 (hBD-3), the cathelicidin, LL37, and the alpha-defensins. The levels of these AMPs were highly variable in the population. While levels of LL37 and hBD-3 did not correlate with caries experience, the mean alpha-defensin level was significantly higher in children with no caries than in children with caries (p < 0.005). We conclude that several types of AMPs that may have a role in oral health are present in unstimulated saliva. Low salivary levels of alpha-defensin may represent a biological factor that contributes to caries susceptibility. Our observation could lead to new ways to prevent caries and to a new tool for caries risk assessment.
PMCID: PMC2147588  PMID: 16934114
6.  Salivary Antimicrobial Peptide Expression and Dental Caries Experience in Children 
Dental caries is a major worldwide oral disease problem in children. Although caries are known to be influenced by dietary factors, the disease results from a bacterial infection; thus, caries susceptibility may be affected by host factors such as salivary antimicrobial peptides. This study aimed to determine a possible correlation between caries prevalence in children and salivary concentrations of the antimicrobial peptides human beta-defensin-3 (hBD-3), the cathelicidin LL37, and the alpha-defensins HNP1-3 (a mixture of HNP1, 2, 3). Oral examinations were performed on 149 middle school children, and unstimulated whole saliva was collected for immunoassays of the three peptides and for assay of caries-causing bacteria in saliva. The median salivary levels of hBD-3, LL37, and HNP1-3 were in the microgram/ml range but were highly variable in the population. While levels of LL37 and hBD-3 did not correlate with caries experience, the median HNP1-3 levels were significantly higher in children with no caries than in children with caries. Children with high caries levels did not have high levels of salivary Streptococcus mutans, and the HNP1-3 level was not correlated with salivary S. mutans. By immunohistochemistry we localized HNP1-3 in submandibular salivary duct cells. HNPs are also released by neutrophils into the gingival crevicular fluid. Both sources may account for their presence in saliva. Low salivary levels of HNP1-3 may represent a biological factor that contributes to caries susceptibility. This observation could lead to new ways to screen for caries susceptibility and to new means of assessing the risk for this common oral problem.
PMCID: PMC1195389  PMID: 16127066
7.  Modulation of host antimicrobial peptide (β-defensins 1 and 2) expression during gastritis 
Gut  2002;51(3):356-361.
Background: β-Defensins are a newly identified family of antimicrobial peptides that are expressed by epithelia on mucosal surfaces where their production is augmented by infection or inflammation. Helicobacter pylori colonises the gastric epithelium causing persistent gastric inflammation leading to antral and corpus gastritis, and peptic ulcer disease.
Aims: To evaluate the role of β-defensins in the innate immune response of the gastric epithelium to infection and inflammation, we have assessed mRNA expression and regulation of human β-defensins 1 and 2 (hBD1, hBD2) by H pylori and proinflammatory stimuli. We have also compared gene and peptide expression of these bactericidal agents in H pylori induced gastritis with that in normal gastric mucosa.
Methods: Modulation of expression of hBD1 and hBD2 by various stimuli was studied in three (AGS, MKN7, MKN45) gastric epithelial cell lines by quantitative competitive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Defensin mRNA expression was measured by semiquantitative RT-PCR in gastritis tissue and compared with controls. Peptide localisation was assessed by immunohistochemistry.
Results: Cytotoxic H pylori and interleukin 1β (IL-1β) markedly upregulated expression of hBD2 in a dose and time dependent manner in both AGS and MKN7 cell lines. A modest increase in hBD1 expression was also noted during infection. Interestingly, induction of hBD1 gene expression by IL-1β was only observed in MKN7 cells. The magnitude of this response was delayed and reduced compared with hBD2 expression. In gastric biopsies, hBD2 was undetectable in normal gastric antrum but a marked increase was observed in H pylori positive gastritis compared with control tissue (p<0.001). Constitutive expression of hBD1 was observed in normal gastric mucosa and there was a significant increase in gastritis (p<0.05). Immunohistochemistry revealed a parallel increase in hBD1 and hBD2 peptide expression in gastritis tissue with positive staining confined to the surface epithelium of the gastric glands.
Conclusions: Modulation of β-defensin expression by pathogenic and/or inflammatory stimuli and their cellular localisation places these antimicrobial peptides in the front line of innate host defence in the human stomach.
PMCID: PMC1773366  PMID: 12171956
β-defensin; gastritis
8.  Antimicrobial peptide β-defensin-1 expression is upregulated in Alzheimer’s brain 
The human β-defensins (hBDs) are a highly conserved family of cationic antimicrobial and immunomodulatory peptides expressed primarily by epithelial cells in response to invasion by bacteria, fungi and some viruses. To date, the most studied members of this family of peptides are hBD-1, -2, and -3. Expression of hBD-1 and -2 has been demonstrated previously in cultured microglia and astrocytes of both mouse and human brain. Unlike inducible hBD-2 and -3, hBD-1 is constitutively expressed and is not generally upregulated by proinflammatory factors. In this study, we investigated whether hBDs, as active components of the innate immune response, are affected by pathological events in the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brain. We assessed the expression of hBD-1, -2, and -3 in tissue obtained at autopsy from AD and age-matched control brains.
Fixed and frozen choroid plexus and the CA1 region of the hippocampus were obtained at autopsy from individuals diagnosed with AD, or from age-matched control brains without diagnosed neurodegenerative disease. Histopathologically diagnosed AD brain tissue was obtained for our study. Immunocytochemical analysis was performed using affinity purified polyclonal antibodies directed against hBD-1, -2, or -3. TaqMan gene expression assays were used to quantify the mRNA of hBD-1, -2, and -3 in the choroid plexus and hippocampus. Immunocytochemical detection of iron deposits was achieved using a modified Perl’s stain for redox-active iron. In vitro experiments were performed on human primary oral epithelial cells to model the human choroid plexus epithelial response to ferric chloride. Cells were then exposed to ferric chloride added to selected wells at 0, 1, or 10 mM concentrations for 24 h at 37°C. Total mRNA was isolated to quantify hBD-1 mRNA expression by RTqPCR.
hBD-1 peptide is apparent in astrocytes of the AD hippocampus and hippocampal neurons, notably within granulovacuolar degeneration structures (GVD). A higher level of hBD-1 was also seen in the choroid plexus of AD brain in comparison to age-matched control tissue. Increased expression of hBD-1 mRNA was observed only in the choroid plexus of the AD brain when compared to expression level in age-matched control brain. Redox-active iron was also elevated in the AD choroid plexus and in vitro addition of Fe+3Cl3 to cultured epithelial cells induced hBD-1 mRNA expression.
Our findings suggest interplay between hBD-1 and neuroimmunological responses in AD, marked by microglial and astrocytic activation, and increased expression of the peptide within the choroid plexus and accumulation within GVD. As a constitutively expressed component of the innate immune system, we propose that hBD-1 may be of considerable importance early in the disease process. We also demonstrate that increased iron deposition in AD may contribute to the elevated expression of hBD-1 within the choroid plexus. These findings represent a potentially important etiological aspect of Alzheimer’s disease neuropathology not previously reported.
PMCID: PMC3817866  PMID: 24139179
Alzheimer’s; Antimicrobial; Brain; Choroid plexus; Defensin; Granulovacuolar; Immunomodulatory; Inflammation
9.  Tissue-specific human beta-defensins (HBD)-1, HBD-2 and HBD-3 secretion profile from human amniochorionic membranes stimulated with Candida albicans in a two-compartment tissue culture system 
During intrauterine infection, amniochorionic membranes represent a mechanical and immunological barrier against dissemination of infection. Human beta defensins (HBD)-1, HBD-2, and HBD-3 are key elements of innate immunity that represent the first line of defense against different pathogen microorganisms associated with preterm labor. The aim of this work was to characterize the individual contribution of the amnion (AMN) and choriodecidua (CHD) regions to the secretion of HBD-1, HBD-2 and HBD-3, after stimulation with Candida albicans.
Full-thickness human amniochorionic membranes were obtained after delivery by elective cesarean section from women at 37-40 wk of gestation with no evidence of active labor. The membranes were cultured in a two-compartment experimental model in which the upper compartment is delimited by the amnion and the lower chamber by the choriodecidual membrane. One million of Candida albicans were added to either the AMN or the CHD face or to both and compartmentalized secretion profiles of HBD-1, HBD-2, and HBD-3 were quantified by ELISA. Tissue immunolocalization was performed to detect the presence of HBD-1, -2, -3 in tissue sections stimulated with Candida albicans.
HBD-1 secretion level by the CHD compartment increased 2.6 times (27.30 [20.9-38.25] pg/micrograms protein) when the stimulus with Candida albicans was applied only on this side of the membrane and 2.4 times (26.55 [19.4-42.5] pg/micrograms protein) when applied to both compartments simultaneously. HBD-1 in the amniotic compartment remained without significant changes. HBD-2 secretion level increased significantly in the CHD when the stimulus was applied only to this region (2.49 [1.49-2.95] pg/micrograms protein) and simultaneously to both compartments (2.14 [1.67- 2.91] pg/micrograms protein). When the stimulus was done in the amniotic compartment HBD-2 remained without significant changes in both compartments. HBD-3 remained without significant changes in both compartments regardless of the stimulation modality. Localization of immune-reactive forms of HBD-1, HBD-2, and HBD-3 was carried out by immunohistochemistry confirming the cellular origin of these peptides.
Selective stimulation of amniochorionic membranes with Candida albicans resulted in tissue-specific secretion of HBD-1 and HBD-2, mainly in the CHD, which is the first region to become infected during an ascending infection.
PMCID: PMC3495197  PMID: 22943496
10.  Association of a genetic polymorphism (-44 C/G SNP) in the human DEFB1 gene with expression and inducibility of multiple β-defensins in gingival keratinocytes 
BMC Oral Health  2009;9:21.
Human β-defensins (hBDs) are antimicrobial peptides with a role in innate immune defense. Our laboratory previously showed that a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the 5' untranslated region of the hBD1 gene (DEFB1), denoted -44 (rs1800972), is correlated with protection from oral Candida. Because this SNP alters the putative mRNA structure, we hypothesized that it alters hBD1 expression.
Transfection of reporter constructs and evaluation of antimicrobial activity and mRNA expression levels in keratinocytes from multiple donors were used to evaluate the effect of this SNP on constitutive and induced levels of expression.
Transfection of CAT reporter constructs containing the 5' untranslated region showed that the -44 G allele yielded a 2-fold increase in CAT protein compared to other common haplotypes suggesting a cis effect on transcription or translation. The constitutive hBD1 mRNA level in human oral keratinocytes was significantly greater in cells from donors with the -44 GG genotype compared to those with the common CC genotype. Surprisingly, the hBD3 mRNA level as well as antimicrobial activity of keratinocyte extracts also correlated with the -44 G allele. Induced levels of hBD1, hBD2, and hBD3 mRNA were evaluated in keratinocytes challenged with Toll-like receptor 2 and 4 ligands, interleukin-1β, TNFα, and interferon-γ (IFNγ). In contrast to constitutive expression levels, IFNγ-induced keratinocyte hBD1 and hBD3 mRNA expression was significantly greater in cells with the common CC genotype, but there was no clear correlation of genotype with hBD2 expression.
The DEFB1 -44 G allele is associated with an increase in overall constitutive antimicrobial activity and expression of hBD1 and hBD3 in a manner that is consistent with protection from candidiasis, while the more common C allele is associated with IFNγ inducibility of these β-defensins and is likely to be more protective in conditions that enhance IFNγ expression such as chronic periodontitis. These results suggest a complex relationship between genetics and defensin expression that may influence periodontal health and innate immune responses.
PMCID: PMC2739845  PMID: 19712472
11.  Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in Human β-Defensin 1: High-Throughput SNP Assays and Association with Candida Carriage in Type I Diabetics and Nondiabetic Controls 
β-Defensins are cationic antimicrobial peptides expressed in epithelia. They exhibit antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Defensins are a component of the innate immune response, and it has been proposed that they have a protective role in the oral cavity. Previous studies have shown that human β-defensin 1 (hBD-1) is constitutively expressed in oral epithelial cells but that expression varies between individuals. We tested the hypothesis that genetic variations in defensin peptide expression may be associated with opportunistic infections. This may be critical in the immunocompromised patient population, in which innate immune responses may have a relatively more important role. Oral Candida carriage status and the presence of six single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the DEFB1 gene encoding hBD-1 were evaluated in type I diabetic patients (n = 43) and nondiabetic controls (n = 50). Genomic DNA was obtained from buccal swabs. Portions of the DEFB1 gene were amplified, and each SNP was analyzed by a TaqMan assay, standardized with control DNA of known genotype. Candida carriage status was determined from unstimulated saliva on CHROMagar plating medium. A low level of Candida carriage was defined as ≤350 CFU/ml. A high level of Candida carriage was seen in 44% of the diabetic subjects but only in 28% of the nondiabetic controls (P < 0.05). C. albicans predominated; however, diabetic subjects, especially those with high levels of carriage, showed an increased proportion of Candida glabrata and C. tropicalis. There was a strong association between an SNP in the 5′ untranslated region (C→G at position −44) and Candida carriage in both groups. Among individuals in the diabetic population who had the SNP allele 2 (G), 58% had low CFU, while 6% had high CFU. The C→G SNP at position −44 is associated with low levels of Candida carriage. The resultant odd ratios are statistically significant for a protective effect (odd ratios, 25 for diabetic subjects and 8.5 for nondiabetic subjects). These results indicate that genetic variations in the DEFB1 gene encoding hBD-1 may have a major role in mediating and/or contributing to susceptibility to oral infection.
PMCID: PMC149626  PMID: 12517831
12.  Effects of whole cigarette smoke on human beta defensins expression and secretion by oral mucosal epithelial cells 
Tobacco Induced Diseases  2015;13(1):3.
Cigarette smoke a recognized risk factor for many systemic diseases and also oral diseases. Human beta defensins (HBDs), a group of important antimicrobial peptides expressed by the epithelium, are crucial for local defense and tissue homeostasis of oral cavity. The aim of this study was to evaluate potential effects of whole cigarette smoke (WCS) exposure on the expression and secretion of HBDs by oral mucosal epithelial cells.
Immortalized human oral mucosal epithelial (Leuk-1) cells were exposed to WCS for various time periods. HBD-1, -2 and -3 expression and subcellular localization were detected by real time qPCR, immunofluorescence assay and confocal microscopy. According to the relative fluorescent intensity, the expression levels of HBD-1, -2 and -3 were evaluated by digital image analysis system. The alteration of HBD-1, -2 and -3 secretion levels was measured by the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay.
WCS exposure remarkably attenuated HBD-1 expression and secretion while clearly enhanced HBD-2, -3 expression levels and HBD-2 secretion by Leuk-l cells. It appeared that there was no significant effect of WCS exposure on HBD-3 secretion.
WCS exposure could modulate expression and secretion of HBDs by oral mucosal epithelial cells, establishing a link between cigarette smoke and abnormal levels of antimicrobial peptides. The present results may give a new perspective to investigate smoking-related local defense suppression and oral disease occurrence.
PMCID: PMC4310021  PMID: 25635179
Whole cigarette smoke; Human β defensin; Oral mucosa
13.  Nuclear hBD-1 accumulation in malignant salivary gland tumours 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:290.
Whereas the antimicrobial peptides hBD-2 and -3 are related to inflammation, the constitutively expressed hBD-1 might function as 8p tumour suppressor gene and thus play a key role in control of transcription and induction of apoptosis in malignant epithelial tumours. Therefore this study was conducted to characterise proteins involved in cell cycle control and host defence in different benign and malignant salivary gland tumours in comparison with healthy salivary gland tissue.
21 paraffin-embedded tissue samples of benign (n = 7), and malignant (n = 7) salivary gland tumours as well as healthy (n = 7) salivary glands were examined immunohistochemically for the expression of p53, bcl-2, and hBD-1, -2, -3.
HBD-1 was distributed in the cytoplasm of healthy salivary glands and benign salivary gland tumours but seems to migrate into the nucleus of malignant salivary gland tumours. Pleomorphic adenomas showed cytoplasmic as well as weak nuclear hBD-1 staining.
HBD-1, 2 and 3 are traceable in healthy salivary gland tissue as well as in benign and malignant salivary gland tumours. As hBD-1 is shifted from the cytoplasm to the nucleus in malignant salivary gland tumours, we hypothesize that it might play a role in the oncogenesis of these tumours. In pleomorphic adenomas hBD-1 might be connected to their biologic behaviour of recurrence and malignant transformation.
PMCID: PMC2567991  PMID: 18840281
14.  Sebum Free Fatty Acids Enhance the Innate Immune Defense of Human Sebocytes by Upregulating β-Defensin-2 Expression 
Various sebum free fatty acids (FFAs) have shown antibacterial activity against a broad range of Gram-positive bacteria, resulting in the suggestion that they are accountable, at least partially, for the direct antimicrobial activity of the skin surface. In this study, we examined the effects of sebum FFAs on the antimicrobial peptide (AMP)-mediated innate immune defense of human sebocytes. Incubation of lauric acid, palmitic acid, or oleic acid (OA) with human sebocytes dramatically enhanced their expression of human β-defensin (hBD)-2, one of the predominant AMPs found in the skin, whereas remarkable increases in hBD-1, hBD-3, and human cathelicidin LL-37 were not observed. Secreted hBD-2 was detectable by western blotting in the supernatant of sebocyte culture incubated with each FFA, but not with a vehicle control. The supernatant of FFA-incubated sebocyte culture showed antimicrobial activity against Propionibacterium acnes, whereas the enhanced antimicrobial activity of human sebocytes was neutralized by anti-hBD-2 IgG. In addition, the FFA-induced hBD-2 expression was suppressed by blocking the cluster of differentiation (CD)36 fatty acid translocase on the surface of sebocytes with anti-human CD36 IgG or blocking the NF-κB signaling pathway with BMS-345541, a highly selective inhibitor of inhibitory κB kinase. These data suggest that sebum FFAs upregulate the expression of hBD-2 in human sebocytes, which may enhance the disinfecting activity of the human sebaceous gland. The FFA-induced upregulation of hBD-2 is facilitated by CD36-mediated FFA uptake and NF-κB-mediated transactivation. The upregulation of mouse β-defensin 4, a mouse ortholog for hBD-2, was also observed in the hair follicle sebaceous glands of mouse ear skin after an epicutaneous application of OA, the most hBD-2-inducible FFA tested. This report highlights the potential of using FFAs as a multifunctional antimicrobial therapy agent for acne vulgaris treatment; FFAs may provide direct antibacterial activities against P. acnes and enhance the skin’s innate antibacterial defense by inducing the expression of hBD-2 in sebocytes as well.
PMCID: PMC3057125  PMID: 20032992
15.  Expression of human β-defensin 2 (hBD-2) in Helicobacter pylori induced gastritis: antibacterial effect of hBD-2 against Helicobacter pylori 
Gut  2001;49(4):481-487.
BACKGROUND—Human β-defensin 2 (hBD-2) plays a role in the innate defence system at mucosal surfaces. Colonisation of Helicobacter pylori in the stomach is an important pathological factor in gastrointestinal illnesses, including gastritis, peptic ulcer, and gastric adenocarcinoma.
AIMS—To evaluate the antibacterial role of hBD-2 against H pylori infection in the gastric mucosa.
SUBJECTS—Biopsied gastric mucosa specimens from H pylori positive (n=6) and H pylori negative (n=6) individuals were used. H pylori was determined by the presence of urease activity and microscopic examination.
METHODS—The specimens were examined for hBD-2 expression by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), immunohistochemistry, and in situ hybridisation. The antibacterial effect of hBD-2 against H pylori was evaluated by the number of colony forming units of H pylori after incubation with 0, 10−9, 10−8, 10−7, 10−6, or 10−5 M of hBD-2 peptide.
RESULTS—All six H pylori positive specimens expressed a high level of hBD-2 mRNA while hBD-2 mRNA was not detected in the H pylori negative specimens by RT-PCR. Immunohistochemistry using anti-hBD-2 antiserum revealed that hBD-2 was expressed in the surface epithelium of H pylori infected specimens. In gastric specimens obtained after H pylori eradication, hBD-2 immunoreactivity had dramatically decreased. In situ hybridisation confirmed that hBD-2 transcripts were localised in the epithelium of H pylori infected gastric specimens. Incubation with hBD-2 reduced the growth rate of cultured H pylori in a dose dependent manner, and incubation with 10−5 M hBD-2 completely inhibited the proliferation of H pylori.
CONCLUSIONS—H pylori infection induces hBD-2 expression in the human gastric epithelium. hBD-2 inhibited the growth of H pylori in vitro, suggesting that hBD-2 plays an antibacterial role in H pylori induced gastritis.

Keywords: human β-defensin 2; Helicobacter pylori; gastritis; antimicrobial peptide
PMCID: PMC1728463  PMID: 11559643
16.  MyD88 Deficiency Alters Expression of Antimicrobial Factors in Mouse Salivary Glands 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e113333.
The surfaces of oral mucosa are protected from infections by antimicrobial proteins and natural immunoglobulins that are constantly secreted in saliva, serving as principal innate immune defense in the oral cavity. MyD88 is an important adaptor protein for signal transduction downstream of Toll-like receptors and TACI, receptors for regulation of innate immunity and B cell responses, respectively. Although MyD88-mediated signaling has a regulatory role in the intestinal mucosal immunity, its specific role in the oral cavity has remained elusive. In the present study, we assessed the influence of MyD88 deficiency on the oral innate defense, particularly the expression of antimicrobial proteins in salivary glands and production of salivary basal immunoglobulins, in mice. Microarray analysis of the whole tissues of submandibular glands revealed that the expression of several genes encoding salivary antimicrobial proteins, such as secretory leukocyte peptidase inhibitor (SLPI), S100A8, and lactotransferrin, was reduced due to MyD88 deficiency. Histologically, SLPI-expressing acinar cells were evidently decreased in the glands from MyD88 deficient mice compared to wild-type mice. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that B cell populations, including B-1 cells and IgA+ plasma cells, residing in submandibular glands were increased by MyD88 deficiency. The level of salivary anti-phosphorylcholine IgA was elevated in MyD88 deficient mice compared to wild-type mice. Thus, this study provides a detailed description of the effect of MyD88 deficiency on expression of several salivary antimicrobial factors in mice, illustrating the role for MyD88-mediated signaling in the innate immune defense in the oral cavity.
PMCID: PMC4240645  PMID: 25415419
17.  Streptococcus mutans strains recovered from caries-active or caries-free individuals differ in sensitivity to host anti-microbial peptides 
Molecular oral microbiology  2011;26(3):187-199.
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are among the repertoire of host innate immune defenses. In the oral cavity, several AMPs are present in saliva and have antimicrobial activities against oral bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, a primary etiologic agent of dental caries. In this study, we hypothesized that unique S. mutans strains as determined by DNA fingerprinting from sixty 13 year-old subjects with or without caries experience would have different susceptibilities to α-defensins-1-3 (HNP-1-3), β-defensins-2-3 (HBD-2-3) and LL-37. The salivary levels of these peptides in subjects also were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). We found that S. mutans strains from caries-active subjects showed greater resistance to salivary HNP-1-2, HBD-2-3 and LL-37 at varying concentrations than those from caries-free subjects. In addition, combinations of these peptides increased their antimicrobial activity against S. mutans either additively or synergistically. The salivary levels of these peptides were highly variable among subjects with no correlation to host caries experience. However, the levels of a number of these peptides in saliva appeared to be positively correlated within an individual. Our findings suggest that the relative ability of S. mutans to resist host salivary AMPs may be considered a potential virulence factor for this species such that S. mutans strains that are more resistant to these peptides may have an ecological advantage to preferentially colonize within dental plaque and increase the risk of dental caries.
PMCID: PMC3092152  PMID: 21545696
Dental caries; defensins; S. mutans; innate immunity; saliva
18.  Inducible Expression of Human β-Defensin 2 by Fusobacterium nucleatum in Oral Epithelial Cells: Multiple Signaling Pathways and Role of Commensal Bacteria in Innate Immunity and the Epithelial Barrier 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(5):2907-2915.
Human gingival epithelial cells (HGE) express two antimicrobial peptides of the β-defensin family, human β-defensin 1 (hBD-1) and hBD-2, as well as cytokines and chemokines that contribute to innate immunity. In the present study, the expression and transcriptional regulation of hBD-2 was examined. HBD-2 mRNA was induced by cell wall extract of Fusobacterium nucleatum, an oral commensal microorganism, but not by that of Porphyromonas gingivalis, a periodontal pathogen. HBD-2 mRNA was also induced by the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and phorbol myristate acetate (PMA), an epithelial cell activator. HBD-2 mRNA was also expressed in 14 of 15 noninflamed gingival tissue samples. HBD-2 peptide was detected by immunofluorescence in HGE stimulated with F. nucleatum cell wall, consistent with induction of the mRNA by this stimulant. Kinetic analysis indicates involvement of multiple distinct signaling pathways in the regulation of hBD-2 mRNA; TNF-α and F. nucleatum cell wall induced hBD-2 mRNA rapidly (2 to 4 h), while PMA stimulation was slower (∼10 h). In contrast, each stimulant induced interleukin 8 (IL-8) within 1 h. The role of TNF-α as an intermediary in F. nucleatum signaling was ruled out by addition of anti-TNF-α that did not inhibit hBD-2 induction. However, inhibitor studies show that F. nucleatum stimulation of hBD-2 mRNA requires both new gene transcription and new protein synthesis. Bacterial lipopolysaccharides isolated from Escherichia coli and F. nucleatum were poor stimulants of hBD-2, although they up-regulated IL-8 mRNA. Collectively, our findings show inducible expression of hBD-2 mRNA via multiple pathways in HGE in a pattern that is distinct from that of IL-8 expression. We suggest that different aspects of innate immune responses are differentially regulated and that commensal organisms have a role in stimulating mucosal epithelial cells in maintaining the barrier that contributes to homeostasis and host defense.
PMCID: PMC97503  PMID: 10768988
19.  Expression of human beta-defensins 1 and 2 in kidneys with chronic bacterial infection 
Constitutive expression and localization of antimicrobial human β-defensin-1 (HBD-1) in human kidneys as a potential mechanism of antimicrobial defense has been previously reported. Inducible expression of human β-defensin-2 (HBD-2) has been described in various epithelial organs but not for the urogenital tract.
We investigated the gene- and protein expression of HBD-1 and HBD-2 by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, and immunohistochemistry in 15 normal human kidney samples and 15 renal tissues with chronic bacterial infection. Additionally, cell culture experiments were performed to study HBD gene expression by real-time RT-PCR in response to inflammatory cytokines TNFα and IL-1β as well as lipopolysaccharide from Gram-negative bacteria.
Constitutive HBD-1 gene- and protein expression was detected in normal renal tissue and kidneys with chronic infection. As a novel finding, inducible HBD-2 gene- and protein expression was demonstrated in tubulus epithelia with chronic infection but not in normal renal tissue. In pyelonephritic kidneys HBD-1 and HBD-2 expression showed a similar pattern of localizaton in distal tubules, loops of Henle and in collecting ducts of the kidney. Furthermore, real-time RT-PCR of kidney derived cell lines stimulated with inflammatory agents TNF-α, IL-1β and LPS revealed a strong increase in relative HBD-2 transcription level and also a slight increase in relative HBD-1 transcription level.
Upregulated HBD-2 expression in renal tubulus epithelium indicates a role of a wider range of human defensins for antimicrobial host defense in the urogenital tract than previously recognized.
PMCID: PMC128826  PMID: 12238953
20.  Impaired Histatin-5 Levels and Salivary Antimicrobial Activity against C. albicans in HIV Infected Individuals 
Journal of AIDS & clinical research  2013;4(193):1000193.
HIV-infected individuals constitute a population highly susceptible to opportunistic infections, particularly oral candidiasis caused by the most pathogenic human fungal species Candida albicans. Host-produced salivary antimicrobial peptides are considered to be an important part of the host innate immune system involved in protection of the oral cavity against colonization and infection by microbial species. Histatin-5 (Hst-5) specifically has exhibited potent anti-candidal properties in vitro. However, its importance in protecting the oral mucosa against candidal colonization and importantly, its contribution to the observed enhanced susceptibility of HIV-infected individuals to candidiasis has not been previously investigated. To that end, a novel immunoassay was used to demonstrate significant decrease in salivary Hst-5 levels in HIV+ individuals concomitant with enhanced candidal prevalence. Further, saliva’s anti-candidal potency was found to be proportional to Hst-5 concentration and significantly compromised in HIV+ subjects compared to controls. The key role for Hst-5 was further confirmed upon exposure to the Hst-5-specific antibody where saliva’s initial killing activity was substantially compromised. Combined, these findings identify Hst-5 as a key anti-candidal salivary component and demonstrate its decreased levels in HIV infection providing new insights into oral Innate immune defense mechanisms and the enhanced susceptibility of HIV+ individuals to oral candidiasis.
PMCID: PMC3666036  PMID: 23730535
HIV/AIDS; Opportunistic infections; Oral candidiasis; Innate immunity; Salivary antimicrobial peptide; Histatin-5; C. albicans
21.  Protection of the Oral Mucosa by Salivary Histatin-5 against Candida albicans in an Ex Vivo Murine Model of Oral Infection 
FEMS yeast research  2010;10(5):597-604.
The oral cavity is a primary target for opportunistic infections, particularly oral candidiasis caused by Candida albicans. A commensal fungus commonly colonizing mucosal surfaces, under conditions of immune dysfunction C. albicans can become a pathogen causing recurrent infections. Yet, the role of host oral innate immunity in the development of candidiasis is not fully elucidated. Specifically, the host salivary antimicrobial peptide histatin-5 (Hst-5) has been proposed to play a protective role in the oral cavity against C. albicans. However, investigations demonstrating its efficacy oral tissue have been lacking. To that end in this study, an ex vivo murine model of infection was developed. Viable C. albicans counts and histopathological analyses demonstrated a significant protective effect for Hst-5 on mouse oral tissue against C. albicans. More importantly, host saliva exerted a comparable anti-candidal effect. However, this effect was neutralized upon treatment of saliva with proteases and C. albicans, previously shown to degrade Hst-5, indicating that Hst-5 is likely the salivary component responsible for the observed protection. Combined, the findings from this study demonstrate for the first time the efficacy of salivary Hst-5 in protecting host tissue against C. albicans infection, thereby affirming the therapeutic potential of this natural host peptide.
PMCID: PMC2921938  PMID: 20491938
Candida albicans; salivary histatin-5; antimicrobial peptide; innate immunity; murine model
22.  Increased Levels of Human Beta-Defensins mRNA in Sexually HIV-1 Exposed But Uninfected Individuals 
Current HIV research  2008;6(6):531-538.
Protection against HIV-1 infection in exposed seronegative (ESN) individuals likely involves natural resistance mechanisms that have not been fully elucidated. Human beta defensins (HBD) are antimicrobial peptides found primarily in mucosae, the main ports of HIV entry. HBD-2 and 3 mRNA are induced by HIV-1 in human oral epithelial cells and exhibit strong anti-HIV-1 activity; in addition, polymorphisms in the DEFB1 gene, which encodes HBD-1, have been associated with resistance/susceptibility to different infections, including HIV-1. Here, we have assessed the association of HBD expression with the ESN phenotype. Peripheral blood and vaginal/endocervical and oral mucosal samples were taken from 47 ESN, 44 seropositive (SP) and 39 healthy controls (HC). HBD-1, 2 and 3 mRNA copy numbers were quantified by real time RT-PCR and A692G/G1654A/A1836G polymorphisms in the DEFB1 gene were detected by restriction fragment length polymorphisms and confirmed by nucleotide sequencing. ESN expressed significantly greater mRNA copy numbers of HBD-2 and 3 in oral mucosa than HC; p=0.0002 and p=0.007, respectively. mRNA copy numbers of HBD-1, 2 and 3 in vaginal/endocervical mucosa from ESN and HC were similar. Homozygosity for the A692G polymorphism was significantly more frequent in ESN (0.39) than in SP (0.05) (p=0.0002). In summary, ESN exhibited enhanced mucosal expression of the innate defense genes HBD-2 and 3; however, additional studies are required to verify these results and the potential association of the A692G polymorphism to the relative resistance of ESN to HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC4126611  PMID: 18991618
HIV-1 (Human immunodeficiency virus type 1); human beta defensins; natural resistance; HIV-1-exposed sero-negatives; polymorphism; mucosa
23.  New mechanism of oral immunity to mucosal candidiasis in hyper-IgE syndrome 
Mucosal immunology  2011;4(4):448-455.
Oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC, thrush) is an opportunistic infection caused by the commensal fungus Candida albicans. An understanding of immunity to Candida has recently begun to unfold with the identification of fungal pattern-recognition receptors such as C-type lectin receptors, which trigger protective T-helper (Th)17 responses in the mucosa. Hyper-IgE syndrome (HIES/Job’s syndrome) is a rare congenital immunodeficiency characterized by dominant-negative mutations in signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, which is downstream of the Th17-inductive cytokines interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-23, and hence patients with HIES exhibit dramatic Th17 deficits. HIES patients develop oral and mucocutaneous candidiasis, supporting a protective role for Th17 cells in immunity to OPC. However, the Th17-dependent mechanisms of antifungal immunity in OPC are still poorly defined. An often unappreciated aspect of oral immunity is saliva, which is rich in antimicrobial proteins (AMPs) and exerts direct antifungal activity. In this study, we show that HIES patients show significant impairment in salivary AMPs, including β-defensin 2 and Histatins. This tightly correlates with reduced candidacidal activity of saliva and concomitantly elevated colonization with Candida. Moreover, IL-17 induces histatins in cultured salivary gland cells. This is the first demonstration that HIES is associated with defective salivary activity, and provides a mechanism for the severe susceptibility of these patients to OPC.
PMCID: PMC3119375  PMID: 21346738
24.  Human β-Defensin-1 mRNA Is Transcribed in Tympanic Membrane and Adjacent Auditory Canal Epithelium 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(9):4843-4846.
The external auditory canal is less susceptible to infections than the sensitive middle-ear cavity. Since recent research has provided insight to the production of potent antimicrobial peptides from various surface epithelia, we wanted to investigate whether protection of the external auditory canal in part could be explained by the production of human β-defensin-1 (HBD-1). This particular peptide is known to be constitutively expressed in various surface epithelia, such as airway, skin, and urogenital tissues. By reverse transcriptase PCR we demonstrate HBD-1 mRNA in the pars tensa and pars flaccida of the tympanic membrane and in the meatal skin. In situ hybridization studies localized the HBD-1 mRNA to the epidermal layer of these tissues. The HBD-1 transcripts were also evident in the sebaceous glands and in hair follicles of the meatal skin. In contrast, HBD-1 mRNA was not detected in the tympanal epithelium of the eardrum. The widespread presence of mRNA encoding for this broad-spectrum antimicrobial peptide in the meatal skin and tympanic membrane suggests that HBD-1 participates in the innate antimicrobial defense of the external auditory canal and middle-ear cavity.
PMCID: PMC96817  PMID: 10456939
25.  Isolation of human β-defensin-4 in lung tissue and its increase in lower respiratory tract infection 
Respiratory Research  2005;6(1):130.
Human β-defensin-4 (hBD-4), a new member of the β-defensin family, was discovered by an analysis of the genomic sequence. The objective of this study was to clarify hBD-4 expression in human lung tissue, along with the inducible expression in response to infectious stimuli, localization, and antimicrobial activities of hBD-4 peptides. We also investigated the participation of hBD-4 in chronic lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) by measuring the concentrations of hBD-4 peptides in human bronchial epithelial lining fluid (ELF).
The antimicrobial activity of synthetic hBD-4 peptides against E. coli and P. aeruginosa was measured by radial diffusion and colony count assays. We identified hBD-4 in homogenated human lung tissue by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with a radioimmunoassay (RIA). Localization of hBD-4 was studied through immunohistochemical analysis (IHC). We investigated the effects of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on hBD-4 expression and its release from small airway epithelial cells (SAEC). We collected ELF from patients with chronic LRTI using bronchoscopic microsampling to measure hBD-4 concentrations by RIA.
hBD-4 exhibited salt-sensitive antimicrobial activity against P. aeruginosa. We detected the presence of hBD-4 peptides in human lung tissue. IHC demonstrated the localization of hBD-4-producing cells in bronchial and bronchiolar epithelium. The levels of hBD-4 peptides released from LPS-treated SAECs were higher than those of untreated control cells. ELF hBD-4 was detectable in 4 of 6 patients with chronic LRTI, while the amounts in controls were all below the detectable level.
This study suggested that hBD-4 plays a significant role in the innate immunity of the lower respiratory tract.
PMCID: PMC1298335  PMID: 16269090

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