Published online May 14, 2013. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i18.2731
Revised: March 19, 2013
Accepted: April 3, 2013
Published online: May 14, 2013
Cathelicidins, are host defense peptides synthesized and stored in circulating leukocytes and numerous types of epithelial tissues in particular the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and skin. They have been known for their antimicrobial activities against a variety of microbes. Recently it was discovered that they have other significant biological functions and produce appealing pharmacological actions against inflammation and cancer in the GI tract through defined mechanisms. Experimental evidence shows that these actions could be tissue and disease specific and concentration dependent. This article reviews some of the physiological functions of cathelicidins and also their therapeutic potential in the treatment of inflammation and cancer and also the delivery system for this peptide as targeted therapy for various disorders in the GI tract both in animals and humans.
Core tip: Cathelicidin is one of the most important host defense peptides known today. It carries multiple and yet unique biological functions against pathogens which contribute to the induction and also progression of infection, inflammation and cancer, the three major types of diseases in mankind. Deficiency of such peptide would cause multiple dysfunctions in the body. In this review we highlight the physiological role and therapeutic potential of cathelicidin in inflammation and cancer and also mucosal repair in the gut. All these information would shed new lights on the development of cathelicidin as therapeutic agent for different disorders in the gastrointestinal tract.