Defensins are mitogenic for epithelial cells and fibroblasts

Authors

  • Christopher J. Murphy,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
    • School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
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  • Bradley A. Foster,

    1. Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, California 95816
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  • Mark J. Mannis,

    1. Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, California 95816
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  • Michael E. Selsted,

    1. Departments of Pathology and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, College of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, California 92717
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  • Ted W. Reid

    1. Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Texas Tech University Health Science Center, Lubbock, Texas 79430
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Abstract

Defensins are a family of structurally homologous peptides contained within phagocytic cells. Although these peptides are best known for their broad spectrum antimicrobial properties, they also inhibit ACTH (corticotropin) stimulated corticosterone production, chemoattract monocytes, and lyse mammalian cells. We now report that these peptides are potent mitogens in vitro in the same concentration range that they display potent antimicrobial activity in vitro. These concentrations are in the same range as those expected to be present in vivo during the wound healing process. All defensins tested were stimulatory for epithelial cells and fibroblasts and acted synergistically with insulin. These are the first data to disclose the strong growth-promoting effects of this unique family of peptides and point to another basic mechanism whereby the macrophage and neutrophil may participate in a variety of trophic, physiologic, and pathologic processes.

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