Defensins: antimicrobial peptides of innate immunity

Nat Rev Immunol. 2003 Sep;3(9):710-20. doi: 10.1038/nri1180.


The production of natural antibiotic peptides has emerged as an important mechanism of innate immunity in plants and animals. Defensins are diverse members of a large family of antimicrobial peptides, contributing to the antimicrobial action of granulocytes, mucosal host defence in the small intestine and epithelial host defence in the skin and elsewhere. This review, inspired by a spate of recent studies of defensins in human diseases and animal models, focuses on the biological function of defensins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Defensins / chemistry
  • Defensins / genetics
  • Defensins / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Salmonella / immunology
  • Salmonella Infections / immunology
  • Sequence Alignment


  • Defensins