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Abstract: Functional relationship between cationic amino acid transporters and beta-defensins: implications for dry skin diseases and the dry eye

Functional relationship between cationic amino acid transporters and beta-defensins: implications for dry skin diseases and the dry eye.
Ann Anat. 2010 Apr 20;192(2):65-9. Epub 2010 Feb 20.
Jäger K, Garreis F, Posa A, Dunse M, Paulsen FP.
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Grosse Steinstrasse 52, D-06097 Halle/Saale, Germany. kristin.jaeger@medizin.uni-halle.de

The ocular surface, constantly exposed to environmental pathogens, is particularly vulnerable to infection. Hence an advanced immune defence system is essential to protect the eye from microbial attack. Antimicrobial peptides, such as beta-defensins, are essential components of the innate immune system and are the first line of defence against invaders of the eye. High concentrations of L-arginine and L-lysine are necessary for the expression of beta-defensins. These are supplied by epithelial cells in inflammatory processes. The limiting factor for initiation of beta-defensin production is the transport of L-arginine and L-lysine into the cell. This transport is performed to 80% by only one transporter system in the human, the y(+)-transporter. This group of proteins exclusively transports the cationic amino acids L-arginine, L-lysine and L-ornithine and is also known under the term cationic amino acid transporter proteins (CAT-proteins). Various infections associated with L-arginine deficiency (for example psoriasis, keratoconjuctivitis sicca) are also associated with an increase in beta-defensin production. For the first time, preliminary work has shown the expression of human CATs in ocular surface epithelia and tissues of the lacrimal apparatus indicating their relevance for diseases of the ocular surface. In this review, we summarize current knowledge on the human CATs that appear to be integrated in causal regulation cascades of beta-defensins, thereby offering novel concepts for therapeutic perspectives. Copyright 2010 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
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