Background: Human β-defensin (HBD)-1 and -2 are antimicrobial peptides present in the respiratory tract. Recent reports have indicated reduced activity of β-defensins in cystic fibrosis, suggesting that β-defensins may play an important role in the pathological process of chronic respiratory tract infection. Diffuse panbronchiolitis (DPB) is a progressive disease characterised by frequent episodes of superimposed infection, typically caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The aim of this study was to elucidate the role of these antimicrobial peptides in this disease.
Methods: The concentrations of HBD-1 and HBD-2 in plasma and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from 33 patients with DPB and 30 normal adults were measured by radioimmunoassay. Localisation of HBD-2 was investigated immunohistochemically in an open lung biopsy specimen obtained from a patient with DPB.
Results: High concentrations of HBD-1 and HBD-2 were noted in BAL fluid from DPB patients. Increased plasma concentrations of HBD-2, but not HBD-1, were found in patients with DPB compared with control subjects. In patients with DPB the HBD-2 concentration in BAL fluid correlated significantly with the numbers of cells recovered from the BAL fluid (total cells, neutrophils, and lymphocytes) and with the BAL fluid concentration of IL-1β. Synthetic HBD-2, but not HBD-1, had dose dependent bactericidal activity against P aeruginosa. Treatment of 14 patients with macrolides significantly reduced BAL fluid concentrations of HBD-2 but not HBD-1 or plasma concentrations of HBD-1 and HBD-2. Immunohistochemistry of lung tissue showed localisation of HBD-2 in the epithelia of the distal bronchioles.
Conclusions: These results indicate that β-defensins, particularly HBD-2, participate in antimicrobial defence in the respiratory tract in DPB, and that the BAL fluid concentration of HBD-2 may be a useful marker of airway inflammation in patients with DPB.
- human β-defensin-1,2
- diffuse panbronchiolitis
- bronchoalveolar lavage fluid
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