Expression of antimicrobial peptides in cutaneous infections after skin surgery.
Increasing numbers of antibiotics have lost efficiency because of bacterial resistance. The consequences can be severe when surgical wounds become infected during postoperative care. Natural peptide antibiotics, the so-called host defence peptides (HDPs), have been investigated since the 1990s in a search for alternative treatment strategies. HDPs build up a protection shield against pathological microorganisms, especially in human epithelium. The use of HDPs is currently being discussed as a new antimicrobial therapeutic strategy. Accordingly, a profound knowledge of the quantitative relationships of the effectors is essential.To evaluate differences in HDP expression between postoperatively inflamed and healthy epithelium.Expression profiles of the genes encoding HDP human beta-defensin (hBD)-1 (DEFB1, previously known as HBD-1), hBD-2 (DEFB4A, previously known as HBD-2), hBD-3 (DEFB103A, previously known as HBD-3) and psoriasin (S100A7) were assessed in samples of surgical wound healing disorders (n = 27)and healthy epithelium (n = 16) by using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Immunohistochemical staining was performed in the same samples.A significant overexpression of DEFB4A (P< 0.001), DEFB103A (P = 0.001) and S100A7 (P< 0.001) was found in cutaneous surgical site infections. Immunohistochemistry revealed intensely elevated protein levels of psoriasin in infected wounds, and differences in distribution with respect to the epithelial layers.The study demonstrates upregulated mRNA expression and protein levels of HDPs in postoperatively inflamed epithelium. The results may be a starting point for novel pharmacological treatments.