Effects of the cathelicidin LL-37 on intestinal epithelial barrier integrity

Regul Pept. 2009 Aug 7;156(1-3):104-17. doi: 10.1016/j.regpep.2009.03.009. Epub 2009 Mar 26.


The human cathelicidin LL-37 is involved in innate immune responses, angiogenesis and wound healing. Functions in maintenance and re-establishment of intestinal barrier integrity have not been characterized yet. Following direct and indirect stimulation of human colonic HT-29 and Caco-2 cells with LL-37 the cellular viability, rate of apoptosis, proliferation and wound healing were determined. Expression of mucins and growth factors was quantified by real-time PCR and Western blotting. Direct application of LL-37 stimulated migration in Caco-2 cells expressing the proposed LL-37 receptor P2X7. Intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) proliferation was not altered. Indirectly, LL-37 significantly enhanced IEC migration via release of growth factors from subepithelial fibroblasts and IEC. Furthermore, LL-37 induced the expression of protective mucins in IEC and abated tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) induced apoptosis in IEC. LL-37 induced signaling is mediated in part by the P2X7 receptor, the epidermal growth factor receptor and the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). LL-37 contributes to maintenance and re-establishment of the intestinal barrier integrity via direct and indirect pathways. These features, in addition to its known antimicrobial properties, suggest an important role for this peptide in intestinal homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Cathelicidins / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects*
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Intestines / cytology*
  • Necrosis
  • Peptide Fragments / pharmacology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Cathelicidins
  • Peptide Fragments
  • cathelicidin LL-37 (18-29), human