Immunomodulatory role of the antimicrobial ll-37 peptide in autoimmune diseases and viral infections

Bapi Pahar, Stefania Madonna, Arpita Das, Cristina Albanesi, Giampiero Girolomoni

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are produced by neutrophils, monocytes, and macrophages, as well as epithelial cells, and are an essential component of innate immunity system against infection, including several viral infections. AMPs, in particular the cathelicidin LL-37, also exert numerous immunomodulatory activities by inducing cytokine production and attracting and regulating the activity of immune cells. AMPs are scarcely expressed in normal skin, but their expression increases when skin is injured by external factors, such as trauma, inflammation, or infection. LL-37 complexed to self-DNA acts as autoantigen in psoriasis and lupus erythematosus (LE), where it also induces production of interferon by plasmocytoid dendritic cells and thus initiates a cascade of autocrine and paracrine processes, leading to a disease state. In these disorders, epidermal keratinocytes express high amounts of AMPs, which can lead to uncontrolled inflammation. Similarly, LL-37 had several favorable and unfavorable roles in virus replication and disease pathogenesis. Targeting the antiviral and immunomodulatory functions of LL-37 opens a new approach to limit virus dissemination and the progression of disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number517
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Cathelicidin
  • LL-37
  • Lupus erythematosus
  • Psoriasis
  • Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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