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This article reviews recent data on the expression, regulation and activation of antimicrobial peptides (AMP) in human skin, and considers their potential protective and pro-inflammatory roles following upregulation by ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Antimicrobial peptides are small peptides that are key components of the innate immune system, originally identified by their vital role in protecting the body-environment interface from infection. However, it has now become clear that AMP have more extensive actions, including the provision of pivotal links with the adaptive immune system. Moreover, aberrant AMP expression may contribute to immuno-modulated inflammatory dermatoses including psoriasis, eczema and the photoaggravated condition lupus erythematosus. Recent work has demonstrated the direct upregulation of AMP in healthy skin by cutaneous UVR exposure. This may serve to protect the skin from risks imposed by both the biophysical barrier-compromise and the immunosuppression that are attributable to UVR exposure. Furthermore, it is observed that UVR provokes upregulation of AMP in an atypical manner in the photosensitivity disorder polymorphic light eruption. Dysregulated UVR responses of these pro-inflammatory proteins may play a role in the pathogenesis of certain immune-mediated diseases caused or aggravated by sunlight.


Sarah Felton, Fatemeh Navid, Agatha Schwarz, Thomas Schwarz, Regine Gläser, Lesley E Rhodes. Ultraviolet radiation-induced upregulation of antimicrobial proteins in health and disease. Photochemical & photobiological sciences : Official journal of the European Photochemistry Association and the European Society for Photobiology. 2013 Jan;12(1):29-36

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PMID: 22945598

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