Biomol Ther  
Towards the Application of Human Defensins as Antivirals
Mee Sook Park, Jin Il Kim, Ilseob Lee, Sehee Park, Joon-Yong Bae and Man-Seong Park*
Department of Microbiology, Institute for Viral Diseases, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul 02841, Republic of Korea
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†The authors contributed equally to this work.
Received: August 30, 2017; Revised: September 29, 2017; Accepted: October 12, 2017; Published online: January 9, 2018.
© The Korean Society of Applied Pharmacology. All rights reserved.

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.
Keywords: Adjuvant, Antiviral, Defensin, Prophylactic, Therapeutic, Virus

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