Antimicrobial Peptides of Phagocytes and Epithelia

Semin Hematol. 1997 Oct;34(4):343-54.


Human and other vertebrate leukocytes contain multiple distinct antimicrobial (poly)peptides. Of these, BPI is a LPB protein active against gram-negative bacteria, PLA2 specifically cleaves bacterial phospholipids, while defensins and cathelicidins are broad spectrum antimicrobials that preferentially permeabilize microbial membranes. These and other polypeptides function in both phagocytic and extracellular killing of microbes, attacking multiple molecular targets to cooperatively penetrate and disrupt the microbial surfaces and membrane barriers. Such antimicrobial substances are of interest not only for students of phagocytic and epithelial host defenses but may lead to the development of novel pharmaceuticals for the treatment of infections and their sequellae.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / metabolism
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides*
  • Blood Proteins / chemistry
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism
  • Blood Proteins / pharmacology
  • Carrier Proteins* / chemistry
  • Carrier Proteins* / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins* / pharmacology
  • Cathelicidins
  • Defensins
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins*
  • Phagocytes / metabolism*
  • Phospholipases A / chemistry
  • Phospholipases A / metabolism
  • Phospholipases A2


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Blood Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cathelicidins
  • Defensins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • bactericidal permeability increasing protein
  • CAP18 lipopolysaccharide-binding protein
  • Phospholipases A
  • Phospholipases A2