Dermcidin: a novel human antibiotic peptide secreted by sweat glands

Nat Immunol. 2001 Dec;2(12):1133-7. doi: 10.1038/ni732.


Antimicrobial peptides are an important component of the innate response in many species. Here we describe the isolation of the gene Dermcidin, which encodes an antimicrobial peptide that has a broad spectrum of activity and no homology to other known antimicrobial peptides. This protein was specifically and constitutively expressed in the sweat glands, secreted into the sweat and transported to the epidermal surface. In sweat, a proteolytically processed 47-amino acid peptide was generated that showed antimicrobial activity in response to a variety of pathogenic microorganisms. The activity of the peptide was maintained over a broad pH range and in high salt concentrations that resembled the conditions in human sweat. This indicated that sweat plays a role in the regulation of human skin flora through the presence of an antimicrobial peptide. This peptide may help limit infection by potential pathogens in the first few hours following bacterial colonization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / metabolism*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptides*
  • Protein Precursors / genetics
  • Protein Precursors / metabolism
  • Protein Precursors / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Sweat / chemistry
  • Sweat Glands / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Peptides
  • Protein Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • dermcidin

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF144011
  • GENBANK/AY044239