Multifaceted immune functions of human defensins and underlying mechanisms

Saahil Fruitwala, Darine W. El-Naccache, Theresa L. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Defensins have been long recognized as natural antimicrobial peptides, but they also possess diverse and versatile immune functions. Defensins can both induce inflammation and suppress inflammatory responses by acting on specific cells through distinct mechanisms. Defensins can also modulate the immune response by forming a complex with cellular molecules including proteins, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates. The mechanisms of defensin-mediated immune modulation appear to be cell-type and context specific. Because the levels of human defensins are often altered in response to infection or disease states, suggesting their clinical relevance, this review summarizes the complex immune functions of human defensins and their underlying mechanisms of action, which have implications for the development of new therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-172
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - Apr 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


  • Defensins
  • Immune functions
  • Pathways


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