Processing of seminal plasma hCAP-18 to ALL-38 by gastricsin - A novel mechanism of generating antimicrobial peptides in vagina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The human cathelicidin, hCAP-18, is expressed both in neutrophils and in epithelial cells. hCAP-18 is processed to the antimicrobial peptide LL-37 by proteinase 3 in neutrophils. hCAP-18 is highly expressed in the epididymis with a subsequent high concentration in seminal plasma where the protein is present in its unprocessed and antimicrobially inactive form. We report here that hCAP-18 in seminal plasma is processed to generate a 38-amino acid antimicrobial peptide ALL-38 by the prostate-derived protease gastricsin when incubated at a pH corresponding to the vaginal pH. In accordance with this, seminal plasma derived hCAP-18 was found in its processed form in the vagina following sexual intercourse. The antimicrobial activity of ALL-38 against a variety of microorganisms tested is equal to that of LL37. This enzymatic activation of a proantimicrobial substance in seminal plasma following exposure to the vaginal milieu represents a novel mechanism to prevent infection following sexual intercourse.


External organisations
  • Copenhagen University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Medicinal Chemistry
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28540-28546
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number31
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Publication categoryResearch