Saliva induces expression of antimicrobial peptides and promotes intracellular killing of bacteria in keratinocytes by epidermal growth factor receptor transactivation

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Background: Wounds in the oral cavity, constantly exposed to both saliva and bacteria, heal quickly without infection. Furthermore, during licking of skin wounds, saliva promotes wound healing and plays a role in keeping the wound free of infection. Objectives: To investigate whether saliva induces expression of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in human epidermal keratinocytes and whether saliva promotes clearance of intracellular bacteria in these cells. Methods: Expression of AMPs was investigated in the oral mucosa and ex vivo injured skin by immunohistochemistry. Human beta-defensin-3 expression was investigated in epidermal keratinocytes after saliva stimulation, using real-time polymerase chain reaction and immunofluorescence. Results: We found higher expression of AMPs in the oral mucosa than in the epidermis. Saliva accelerated the injury-induced expression of AMPs in human skin ex vivo and was a potent inducer of the expression of AMPs in epidermal keratinocytes. The expression of AMPs was induced by metalloproteinase-dependent epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) transactivation mediated by a salivary lipid. Saliva increased the intracellular clearance of Staphylococcus aureus in keratinocytes through EGFR activation. Conclusions: These findings suggest a previously unreported role of saliva in innate immunity and demonstrate for the first time that saliva induces gene expression in epidermal keratinocytes.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • University of Kiel

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Dermatologi och venereologi
Sidor (från-till)403-412
Antal sidor10
TidskriftBritish Journal of Dermatology
StatusPublished - 2017 feb 1
Peer review utfördJa