Towards the application of human defensins as antivirals

Mee Sook Park, Jin Il Kim, Ilseob Lee, Sehee Park, Joon Yong Bae, Man Seong Park

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Defensins are antimicrobial peptides that participate in the innate immunity of hosts. Humans constitutively and/or inducibly express α- and β-defensins, which are known for their antiviral and antibacterial activities. This review describes the application of human defensins. We discuss the extant experimental results, limited though they are, to consider the potential applicability of human defensins as antiviral agents. Given their antiviral effects, we propose that basic research be conducted on human defensins that focuses on RNA viruses, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), influenza A virus (IAV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and dengue virus (DENV), which are considered serious human pathogens but have posed huge challenges for vaccine development for different reasons. Concerning the prophylactic and therapeutic applications of defensins, we then discuss the applicability of human defensins as antivirals that has been demonstrated in reports using animal models. Finally, we discuss the potential adjuvant-like activity of human defensins and propose an exploration of the ‘defensin vaccine’ concept to prime the body with a controlled supply of human defensins. In sum, we suggest a conceptual framework to achieve the practical application of human defensins to combat viral infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-254
Number of pages13
JournalBiomolecules and Therapeutics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Korea Institute of Planning and Evaluation for Technology in Food, Agriculture, Forestry (IPET) through Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Research Center Support Program, funded by Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA; 716002-7).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Korean Society of Applied Pharmacology.


  • Adjuvant
  • Antiviral
  • Defensin
  • Prophylactic
  • Therapeutic
  • Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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