Host defence peptides (HDPs) are expressed throughout the animal and plant kingdoms. They have multifunctional roles in the defence against infectious agents of mammals, possessing both bactericidal and immune-modulatory activities. We have identified a novel family of molecules secreted by helminth parasites (helminth defence molecules; HDMs) that exhibit similar structural and biochemical characteristics to the HDPs. Here, we have analyzed the functional activities of four HDMs derived from Schistosoma mansoni and Fasciola hepatica and compared them to human, mouse, bovine and sheep HDPs. Unlike the mammalian HDPs the helminth-derived HDMs show no antimicrobial activity and are non-cytotoxic to mammalian cells (macrophages and red blood cells). However, both the mammalian- and helminth-derived peptides suppress the activation of macrophages by microbial stimuli and alter the response of B cells to cytokine stimulation. Therefore, we hypothesise that HDMs represent a novel family of HDPs that evolved to regulate the immune responses of their mammalian hosts by retaining potent immune modulatory properties without causing deleterious cytotoxic effects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases