Involvement of the antimicrobial peptide LL-37 in human atherosclerosis

Kristina Edfeldt, Birgitta Agerberth, Martin E. Rottenberg, Gudmundur H. Gudmundsson, Xiong Biao Wang, Kaushik Mandal, Qingbo Xu, Zhong Qun Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVE-: Antimicrobial peptides are effector molecules of the innate immune system. To understand the function of vascular innate immunity in atherosclerosis, we investigated the role of LL-37, a cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide, in the disease process. METHODS AND RESULTS-: Using real-time polymerase chain reaction, we found a 6-fold increase in human cationic antimicrobial protein 18/LL-37 transcript in human atherosclerotic lesions compared with normal arteries. Immunohistochemical analysis of atherosclerotic plaques showed that LL-37 was expressed mainly by macrophages and some endothelial cells. Western blot demonstrated existence of active LL-37 peptide and abundant proprotein in atheroma specimens. To understand the functional implication of LL-37 production in atherosclerosis, the transcription profile was assessed in endothelial cells treated with LL-37. Our data show that LL-37 induces expression of the adhesion molecule intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and the chemokine monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 in endothelial cells. Intriguingly, Chlamydia pneumoniae withstood the antimicrobial activity of LL-37 in vitro, although inflammatory response was induced on infection. CONCLUSION-: LL-37 is produced in atherosclerotic lesions, where it may function as an immune modulator by activating adhesion molecule and chemokine expression, thus enhancing innate immunity in atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1551-1557
Number of pages7
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes



  • Antimicrobial peptide
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Immune system
  • Infection
  • Inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Cite this

Edfeldt, K., Agerberth, B., Rottenberg, M. E., Gudmundsson, G. H., Wang, X. B., Mandal, K., ... Yan, Z. Q. (2006). Involvement of the antimicrobial peptide LL-37 in human atherosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 26(7), 1551-1557.