More research on Defensin-4 Beta will provide further information to help combat influenza and SARS-CoV-2 infection

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The 2019 novel respiratory virus (SARS-CoV-2) causes COVID-19 with rapid global socioeconomic disruptions and disease burden to healthcare. The COVID-19 and previous emerging virus outbreaks highlight the urgent need for broad-spectrum antivirals. Here, we show that a defensin-like peptide P9R exhibited potent antiviral activity against pH-dependent viruses that require endosomal acidification for virus infection, including the enveloped pandemic A(H1N1)pdm09 virus, avian influenza A(H7N9) virus, coronaviruses (SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV), and the non-enveloped rhinovirus. P9R can significantly protect mice from lethal challenge by A(H1N1)pdm09 virus and shows low possibility to cause drug-resistant virus. Mechanistic studies indicate that the antiviral activity of P9R depends on the direct binding to viruses and the inhibition of virus-host endosomal acidification, which provides a proof of concept that virus-binding alkaline peptides can broadly inhibit pH-dependent viruses. These results suggest that the dual-functional virus- and host-targeting P9R can be a promising candidate for combating pH-dependent respiratory viruses.


Zhao H, To KKW, Sze KH, et al. A broad-spectrum virus- and host-targeting peptide against respiratory viruses including influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2. Nat Commun. 2020;11(1):4252.

Because of the uninterrupted spread of novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infectious disease(COVID-19) with substantial illness and mortality rates, there is an urgent requirement of suitable antiviral agent/therapy to control this pandemic, but not yet established. The primary cause of SARS-CoV-2 infection is the crosstalk between the SARS-CoV-2 and host surface receptor protein, human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2), prior to cellular entry. Hence, blocking at the initial stage of virus entry could be a promising strategy/therapy to combat the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Many drugs as SARS-CoV-2 blocker have been proposed. Among them, peptide-based antivirals are one. This Viewpoint discusses the potential antiviral role and feasibility of two classes of peptides for prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection, where (1) a designed peptide (replication of virus binding domain of hACE2), and (2) antimicrobial peptides (AMPs; natural and first line host defense peptide), both may reduce virus load into the host cell by blocking cellular surface receptors and/or disruption of virus cell membrane at the stage of virus entry. These finding may provide a novel antiviral therapy against COVID-19, which might control the current global health crisis.


Maiti BK. Potential Role of Peptide-Based Antiviral Therapy Against SARS-CoV-2 Infection. ACS Pharmacol Transl Sci. 2020;3(4):783-785.

Defensins are a family of host defense peptides present in vertebrates, invertebrates and plants. They display broad antimicrobial activity and immunomodulatory functions. Herein, the natural anti-influenzal role of β-defensins, as well as their potential usage as anti-influenza vaccine adjuvants and therapeutic agents, is reviewed. This article summarizes previously published information on β-defensin modes of action, expression changes after influenza infection and vaccination, biotechnological usage and possible boosting of their production by dietary supplementation.


Kalenik BM, Góra-sochacka A, Sirko A. Β-defensins - Underestimated peptides in influenza combat. Virus Res. 2018;247:10-14.

A safe, potent and broad-spectrum antiviral is urgently needed to combat emerging respiratory viruses. In light of the broad antiviral activity of β-defensins, we tested the antiviral activity of 11 peptides derived from mouse β-defensin-4 and found that a short peptide, P9, exhibited potent and broad-spectrum antiviral effects against multiple respiratory viruses in vitro and in vivo, including influenza A virus H1N1, H3N2, H5N1, H7N7, H7N9, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. The antiviral activity of P9 was attributed to its high-affinity binding to viral glycoproteins, as well as the abundance of basic amino acids in its composition. After binding viral particles through viral surface glycoproteins, P9 entered into cells together with the viruses via endocytosis and prevented endosomal acidification, which blocked membrane fusion and subsequent viral RNA release. This study has paved the avenue for developing new prophylactic and therapeutic agents with broad-spectrum antiviral activities.


Zhao H, Zhou J, Zhang K, et al. A novel peptide with potent and broad-spectrum antiviral activities against multiple respiratory viruses. Sci Rep. 2016;6:22008.

Defensin peptides have their direct role in host defense against microbial infection as innate molecules and also thought to contribute to adaptive immunity by recruiting naïve T-cells and immature dendritic cells at the site of infection through CCR6 receptor. The main aim of the present study is to investigate the efficacy of defensins for the induction of cell mediated immune response against the peptide antigen of HIV-1 encapsulated in PLG microparticles through intranasal (IN) route in mice model. To characterized, we have analyzed T-cell proliferation, Th1/Th2 cytokines, β-chemokines production and IFN-γ/perforin secretion from CD4+/CD8+ T-cells in response to HIV immunogen alone and with defensins at different mucosal site i.e. lamina propria (LP), spleen (SP) and peyer's patches (PP). The cellular immunogenicity of HIV peptide with defensin formulations showed a significantly higher (p < 0.001) proliferation response as compared to individual HIV peptide. The enhanced cytokines measurement profile showed mixed Th1 and Th2 type of peptide specific immune response by the incorporation of defensins. In the continuation, enhancement in MIP-1α and RANTES level was also observed in HIV peptide–defensin formulations. The FACS data had revealed that CD4+/CD8+ T-cells showed significantly (p < 0.001) higher IFN-γ and perforin secretion in HIV with defensin peptide formulations than HIV antigen alone group. Thus, the study emphasized here that defensin peptides have a potential role as mucosal adjuvant, might be responsible for the induction of cell mediated immunity when administered in mice through IN route with HIV peptide antigen.


Mohan T, Sharma C, Bhat AA, Rao DN. Modulation of HIV peptide antigen specific cellular immune response by synthetic α- and β-defensin peptides. Vaccine. 2013;31(13):1707-16.

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072-41A Defensin-4 , Beta (Human) 100 µg $451
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