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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Transient cutaneous adenoviral gene therapy with human host defense peptide hCAP-18/LL-37 is effective for the treatment of burn wound infections.

Host defense peptides (HDP) are naturally occurring effector molecules of the innate immune system, which might be an alternative to currently used antibiotics. The objective of this study was to investigate the efficiency of transient cutaneous adenoviral transfection with human cathelicidin hCAP-18/LL-37 in infected burn wounds. Specific transgene expression was analyzed in vitro on mRNA and protein level using real-time PCR and Western-blot. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (n=40) received a second degree scald burn on both flanks (5% BSA), which were inoculated with 10(8) colony-forming units (CFU) Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Two days later, rats were randomized into the following groups: (1) adenoviral delivery of LL-37 (Ad5-hCAP-18, n=10), (2) synthetic host defense peptide LL-37 (1 mg; n=10), (3) carrier control (PBS, n=10) and (4) empty-virus control (Ad5-LacZ, n=10). Agents were injected intradermally and subcutaneously into both flanks. After either 2 or 7 days, skin samples were harvested and homogenized. CFU per gram tissue were determined. The hCAP-18/LL-37 expression was confirmed by real-time PCR and localized using in situ hybridization. In vitro transfection of cutaneous cells delivered a specific response on mRNA production. Western blot analysis revealed protein expression of hCAP-18/LL-37 in conditioned medium and cell pellet. The host defense peptide LL-37 was detectable after cleavage of the inactive pro-form hCAP-18/LL-37 with human elastase. Ad5-hCAP-18 showed a significant bacterial inhibition of approximately 10 000 fold compared to the control group (P<0.001) and 1000-fold (P<0.001) compared to the synthetic HDP LL-37 7 post-transfection. No inhibition was observed for the carrier or empty-virus control. Real-time PCR and in situ hybridization confirmed expression of hCAP-18/LL-37. In conclusion, transient cutaneous adenoviral delivery of the host defense peptide hCAP-18/LL-37 is significantly more effective than administration of synthetic host defense peptides and might be a potential adjunct for wound treatment in the near future.[1]


  1. Transient cutaneous adenoviral gene therapy with human host defense peptide hCAP-18/LL-37 is effective for the treatment of burn wound infections. Jacobsen, F., Mittler, D., Hirsch, T., Gerhards, A., Lehnhardt, M., Voss, B., Steinau, H.U., Steinstraesser, L. Gene Ther. (2005) [Pubmed]
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