Histatins: antimicrobial peptides with therapeutic potential
Kavanagh, Kevin and Dowd, Susan (2004) Histatins: antimicrobial peptides with therapeutic potential. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 56 .
Histatins are a group of antimicrobial peptides, found in the saliva of man and some higher primates, which possess antifungal properties. Histatins bind to a receptor on the fungal cell membrane and enter the cytoplasm where they target the mitochondrion. They induce the non-lytic loss of ATP from actively respiring cells, which can induce cell death. In addition, they have been shown to disrupt the cell cycle and lead to the generation of reactive oxygen species. Their mode of action is distinct from those exhibited by the conventional azole and polyene drugs, hence histatins may have applications in controlling drug-resistant fungal infections. The possibility of utilising histatins for the control of fungal infections of the oral cavity is being actively pursued with the antifungal properties of topical histatin preparations and histatin-impregnated denture acrylic being evaluated. Initial clinical studies are encouraging, having demonstrated the safety and efficacy of histatin preparations in blocking the adherence of the yeast Candida albicans to denture acrylic, retarding plaque formation and reducing the severity of gingivitis. Histatins may represent a new generation of antimicrobial compounds for the treatment of oral fungal infections and have the advantage, compared with conventional antifungal agents, of being a normal component of human saliva with no apparent adverse effects on host tissues and having a mode of action distinct to azole and polyene antifungals.
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