Background: Defensins are antimicrobial peptides expressed on mucosal surfaces that contribute to maintaining intestinal homeostasis by providing innate defense mechanisms for the epithelia. Defensin expression is altered in a number of diseases that affect mucosal surfaces, such as atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Similar to atopic dermatitis, eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic disease in which the squamous epithelial surface is affected by a similar T H 2 microenvironment and eosinophil-predominant inflammation. Therefore, we hypothesized that defensin expression would be decreased in EoE. Methods: To address this, we measured defensin expression in vitro in cell lines derived from patients with EoE (EoE1-T) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (NES-G4T cells) and ex vivo in esophageal mucosal biopsy samples from children with EoE or GERD and control children without esophageal disease. Results: Interleukin-5 induced a decrease in human β-defensin (hBD)-1 and hBD3 expression in EoE1-T but not in NES-G4T cells. Compared with esophageal biopsy specimens from GERD and control children, specimens from EoE pediatric patients revealed a significant decrease in mRNA and protein expression for hBD1 and hBD3. Conclusion: Diminished expression of hBD1 and hBD3 may make the esophageal epithelium more susceptible to the development and/or perpetuation of EoE.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health