Systemic levels of human β-defensin 1 are elevated in patients with cirrhosis

Authors Garyfallia Kaltsa, Giorgos Bamias, Spyros I. Siakavellas, Dimitris Goukos, Dimitris Karagiannakis, Evanthia Zampeli, Jiannis Vlachogiannakos, Spyridon Michopoulos, Irene Vafiadi, George L. Daikos, Spiros D. Ladas.


Background Bacterial translocation (BT) commonly occurs in cirrhosis. Reliable biomarkers for BT are currently lacking. Human beta defensin-1 (hBD-1) is a member of the family of natural antimicrobial peptides produced by epithelial cells and participates in the mucosal defensive mechanisms that prevent BT. The aim of the present study was to examine the local and systemic expression of hBD-1 in patients with cirrhosis.

Methods Plasma concentrations of hBD-1 and of soluble CD14 (sCD14) proteins were measured by ELISA in patients with chronic viral hepatitis, cirrhosis, and healthy controls. Relative mRNA expression of various natural antimicrobial peptides was determined by real-time PCR in biopsies from the terminal ileum and colon.

Results We found significant upregulation of hBD-1 and sCD14 in the peripheral blood of patients with cirrhosis compared to patients with chronic viral hepatitis and healthy controls. The etiology of cirrhosis did not affect the concentration of either protein. The levels of hBD-1 protein correlated significantly with the levels of sCD14 in blood collected from hepatic veins of cirrhotic patients. In contrast, no significant differences were observed in the intestinal mucosal mRNA expression of the Paneth cell specific defensin A5 or hBD-1 between patients with cirrhosis and healthy controls.

Conclusions hBD-1 is upregulated in patients with cirrhosis and highly correlates with the lipopolysaccharide-induced protein sCD14. hBD-1 may serve as a biomarker of BT in patients with cirrhosis.

Keywords Cirrhosis, bacterial translocation, human beta defensin-1, soluble CD14, natural antimicrobial peptides, biomarkers

Ann Gastroenterol 2016; 29 (1): 63-70

Original Articles