Candida infections and human defensins

Vania Polesello, Ludovica Segat, Sergio Crovella, Luisa Zupin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Candida species infections are an important worldwide health issue since they do not only affect immunocompromised patients but also healthy individuals. The host developed different mechanisms of protection against Candida infections; specifically the immune system and the innate immune response are the first line of defence. Defensis are a group of antimicrobial peptides, components of the innate immunity, produced at mucosal level and known to be active against bacteria, virus but also fungi. Objectives: The aim of the current work was to review all previous studies in literature that analysed defensins in the context of Candida spp. infections, in order to investigate and clarify the exact mechanisms of defensins anti-fungal action. Methods: Several studies were identified from 1985 to 2017 (9 works form years 1985 to 1999, 44 works ranging from 2000 to 2009 and 35 from 2010 to 2017) searched in two electronic databases (PubMed and Google Scholar). The main key words used for the research were "Candida", "Defensins"," Innate immune system","fungi". Results and conclusion: The findings of the reviewed studies highlight the pivotal role of defensins antimicrobial peptides in the immune response against Candida infections, since they are able to discriminate host cell from fungi: defensins are able to recognize the pathogens cell wall (different in composition from the human ones), and to disrupt it through membrane permeabilization. However, further research is needed to explain completely defensins' mechanisms of action to fight C. albicans (and other Candida spp.) infections, being the information fragmentary and only in part elucidated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-756
Number of pages10
JournalProtein and Peptide Letters
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Candida
  • Defensins
  • Fungi
  • Infection
  • Innate immunity
  • Mucosa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry


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