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Skin Peptide Deficiency Linked to Herpes Susceptibility

Lack of cathelicidin peptide LL-37 may make patients with atopic dermatitis more susceptible to eczema herpeticum

FRIDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- The cathelicidin peptide LL-37 shows activity against herpes simplex virus, suggesting that increasing production of skin LL-37 might be a way to prevent eczema herpeticum (ADEH) in atopic dermatitis patients who are deficient in the peptide, according to a study in the April issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Michael D. Howell, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, and colleagues examined skin biopsy specimens from 10 patients with atopic dermatitis without a history of ADEH and from 10 atopic dermatitis patients with ADEH. They also measured glycoprotein D as a marker of herpes simplex virus replication in an assay using murine skin biopsy samples and cultured human skin cells.

Overall, concentrations of LL-37 as low as 10 μM cut herpes simplex virus levels by more than 10,000-fold. Skin samples from the ADEH patients showed significantly lower levels of cathelicidin protein expression than those from patients with only atopic dermatitis.

"This study demonstrates that the cathelicidin peptide LL-37 possess antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus," the authors conclude. Further clinical studies are warranted to test whether boosting LL-37 expression in the skin of atopic dermatitis patients could help prevent ADEH, they suggest.

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