Although first studied for their antimicrobial activity, host defense peptides (HDPs) are now widely recognized for their multifunctional roles in both the innate and adaptive immune responses. Their diverse immunomodulatory capabilities include the modulation of pro- and anti-inflammatory responses, chemoattraction, enhancement of extracellular and intracellular bacterial killing, cellular differentiation and activation of the innate and adaptive compartments, wound-healing, and modulation of autophagy as well as apoptosis and pyroptosis. We review the various immunomodulatory roles of HDPs and their synthetic analogs, the innate defense regulators (IDRs). We discuss their potential as host-directed therapies, the hurdles they face in clinical development, and propose ways forward.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.