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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2012, Article ID 905785, 11 pages
Review Article

Do β-Defensins and Other Antimicrobial Peptides Play a Role in Neuroimmune Function and Neurodegeneration?

1Department of Biological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA
2Department of Pathology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD 20742, USA
3UTSA Neurosciences Institute and Department of Biology, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA
4Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

Received 24 June 2011; Accepted 26 October 2011

Academic Editor: R. E. Tanzi

Copyright © 2012 Wesley M. Williams et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


It is widely accepted that the brain responds to mechanical trauma and development of most neurodegenerative diseases with an inflammatory sequelae that was once thought exclusive to systemic immunity. Mostly cationic peptides, such as the β-defensins, originally assigned an antimicrobial function are now recognized as mediators of both innate and adaptive immunity. Herein supporting evidence is presented for the hypothesis that neuropathological changes associated with chronic disease conditions of the CNS involve abnormal expression and regulatory function of specific antimicrobial peptides. It is also proposed that these alterations exacerbate proinflammatory conditions within the brain that ultimately potentiate the neurodegenerative process.