Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are effectors of cutaneous innate immunity and protect primarily against microbial infections. An array of AMPs can be found in and on the skin. Those include peptides that were first discovered for their antimicrobial properties but also proteins with antimicrobial activity first characterized for their activity as chemokines, enzymes, enzyme inhibitors and neuropeptides. Cathelicidins were among the first families of AMPs discovered in skin. They are now known to exert a dual role in innate immune defense: they have direct antimicrobial activity and will also initiate a host cellular response resulting in cytokine release, inflammation and angiogenesis. Altered cathelicidin expression and function was observed in several common inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, rosacea and psoriasis. Until recently the molecular mechanisms underlying cathelicidin regulation were not known. Lately, vitamin D3 was identified as the major regulator of cathelicidin expression and entered the spotlight as an immune modulator with impact on both, innate and adaptive immunity. Therapies targeting vitamin D3 signalling may provide novel approaches for the treatment of infectious and inflammatory skin diseases by affecting both innate and adaptive immune functions through AMP regulation
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