Antimicrobial peptides of the vaginal innate immunity and their role in the fight against sexually transmitted diseases

New Microbes New Infect. 2019 Dec 10;34:100627. doi: 10.1016/j.nmni.2019.100627. eCollection 2020 Mar.


Some antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are produced in the vaginal innate immune system and play an important role in protecting this organ against pathogenic agents. Moreover, sexually transmitted diseases have become a major problem in human societies and are rapidly spreading. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant microbes (superbugs) can pose a major threat to human societies and cause rapid spread of these diseases. Finding new antimicrobial compounds to fight superbugs is therefore essential. It has been shown that AMPs have good potential to become new antibiotics. The most important AMPs in the vaginal innate immune system are defensins, secretory leucocyte protease inhibitors, calprotectin, lysozyme, lactoferrin and elafin, which play an important role in host defence against sexually transmitted infections, modulation of immune responses and anticancer activities. Some AMPs, such as LL-37, magainin 2 and nisin, show both spermicidal and antimicrobial effects in the vagina. In this summary, we will discuss vaginal AMPs and continue to address some of the challenges of using peptides to control pathogens that are effective in sexually transmitted diseases.

Keywords: Antimicrobial peptide; LL-37; defensin; sexually transmitted diseases; spermicidal peptides; vaginal innate immune system.

Publication types

  • Review