Cutaneous antimicrobial peptides: New “actors” in pollution related inflammatory conditions

Brittany Woodby, Erika Pambianchi, Francesca Ferrara, Jean Philippe Therrien, Alessandra Pecorelli, Nicolo’ Messano, Mary Ann Lila, Giuseppe Valacchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ozone (O3) exposure has been reported to contribute to various cutaneous inflammatory conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, rush etc. via a redox-inflammatory pathway. O3 is too reactive to penetrate cutaneous tissue; it interacts with lipids present in the outermost layer of skin, resulting in formation of oxidized molecules and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Interestingly, several inflammatory skin pathologies demonstrate altered levels of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). These small, cationic peptides are found in various cells, including keratinocytes, eccrine gland cells, and seboctyes. Classically, AMPs function as antimicrobial agents. Recent studies indicate that AMPs also play roles in inflammation, angiogenesis, and wound healing. Since altered levels of AMPs have been detected in pollution-associated skin pathologies, we hypothesized that exposure to O3 could affect the levels of AMPs in the skin. We examined levels of AMPs using qRT-PCR, Western blotting, and immunofluorescence in vitro (human keratinocytes), ex vivo (human skin explants), and in vivo (human volunteer subjects exposed to O3) and observed increased levels of all the measured AMPs upon O3 exposure. In addition, in vitro studies have confirmed the redox regulation of AMPs in keratinocytes. This novel finding suggests that targeting AMPs could be a possible defensive strategy to combat pollution-associated skin conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101952
JournalRedox Biology
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Antimicrobial peptides
  • LL37
  • Pollution
  • ROS
  • Skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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