Is Defective Secretion of Antimicrobial Peptides Associated with Reduced Microbicidal Effects in Atopic Keratinocytes?

This study investigates whether the complications resulting in skin infections experienced by dogs with allergies can be better treated by increasing the secretion of the body’s natural antimicrobial defenses. In this particular case, much work in this direction has been done in human medicine and the researchers at the University of Florida will determine how this work in human medicine can benefit dogs with complications from skin allergies.

Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are small proteins produced by many organisms. They have multiple functions, the most important of which is the defense against pathogens. The antimicrobial activity of such proteins has been demonstrated against multiple microorganisms.

Recently, a lack of secretion of AMPs, after exposure to bacteria in human skin cells harvested from allergic patients, has been hypothesized as a possible cause of recurrent infections in allergic skin conditions. Allergies are common in dogs and frequently associated with recurrent, antibiotic‐resistant skin infections. Thus, the identification of ways to boost ability to fight bacteria is important.

The investigation of possible changes between healthy and atopic skin cells is fundamental in order to be able to intervene, and make such secretion more effective without the use of synthetic antimicrobials. Thus, the goal of this study is to determine if, like in people, lower AMP secretion is present in skin cells harvested from allergic dogs after stimulation with common cutaneous pathogenic bacteria. The hypotheses to test are 1) whether a lower amount of AMPs are secreted by allergic skin cells compared with healthy ones, and consequently, bacteria are not effectively killed; and 2) if a higher amount of AMPs is retained within the allergic cells.

This study has the potential to open the way for a revolutionary approach to treating skin infections that occur secondary to allergies in dogs by increasing the secretion of natural antimicrobial defenses, and thus reducing the use of synthetic and expensive antimicrobials with potential side effects.

Co-sponsored with the AKC Canine Health Foundation, Grant Number: 02182‐A


Dr. Domenico Santoro, DVM
University of Florida
Amount: $1,000