Cationic peptides: effectors in innate immunity and novel antimicrobials

Lancet Infect Dis. 2001 Oct;1(3):156-64. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(01)00092-5.


Cationic antimicrobial peptides are produced by all organisms, from plants and insects to human beings, as a major part of their immediately effective, non-specific defences against infections. With the increasing development of antibiotic resistance among key bacterial pathogens, there is an urgent need to discover novel classes of antibiotics. Therefore, cationic peptides are being developed through clinical trials as anti-infective agents. In addition to their ability to kill microbes, these peptides seem to have effector functions in innate immunity and can upregulate the expression of multiple genes in eukaryotic cells. One such function might involve the dampening of signalling by bacterial molecules such as lipopolysaccharide and lipoteichoic acid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / immunology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / immunology*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / adverse effects
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use
  • Cations
  • Gramicidin / adverse effects
  • Gramicidin / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymyxin B / adverse effects
  • Polymyxin B / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Cations
  • Gramicidin
  • Polymyxin B