Immune modulation by multifaceted cationic host defense (antimicrobial) peptides

Nat Chem Biol. 2013 Dec;9(12):761-8. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.1393.


Cationic host defense (antimicrobial) peptides were originally studied for their direct antimicrobial activities. They have since been found to exhibit multifaceted immunomodulatory activities, including profound anti-infective and selective anti-inflammatory properties, as well as adjuvant and wound-healing activities in animal models. These biological properties suggest that host defense peptides, and synthetic derivatives thereof, possess clinical potential beyond the treatment of antibiotic-resistant infections. In this Review, we provide an overview of the biological activities of host defense and synthetic peptides, their mechanism(s) of action and new therapeutic applications and challenges that are associated with their clinical use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / immunology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / immunology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / immunology*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Immunomodulation
  • Macrophages / classification
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Wound Healing / immunology


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides