Multifunctional antimicrobial peptides: therapeutic targets in several human diseases

J Mol Med (Berl). 2007 Apr;85(4):317-29. doi: 10.1007/s00109-006-0143-4. Epub 2007 Jan 10.


Antimicrobial peptides have emerged as promising agents against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. They represent essential components of the innate immunity and permit humans to resist infection by microbes. These gene-encoded peptides are found mainly in phagocytes and epithelial cells, showing a direct activity against a wide range of microorganisms. Their role has now broadened from that of simply endogenous antibiotics to multifunctional mediators, and their antimicrobial activity is probably not the only primary function. Although antimicrobial peptide deficiency, dysregulation, or overproduction is not known to be a direct cause of any single human disease, numerous studies have now provided compelling evidence for their involvement in the complex network of immune responses and inflammatory diseases, thereby influencing diverse processes including cytokine release, chemotaxis, angiogenesis, wound repair, and adaptive immune induction. The purpose of this review is to highlight recent literature, showing that antimicrobial peptides are associated with several human conditions including infectious and inflammatory diseases, and to discuss current clinical development of peptide-based therapeutics for future use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / immunology*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Wound Healing / physiology


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides