Host defense peptides are a family of endogenous short peptides that are found in all living beings and play a critical role in innate immunity against infection.
A nonsystematic review of host defense peptides was conducted with specific interest in properties and applications relevant to plastic and reconstructive surgery.
In addition to their direct antimicrobial actions against pathogens, including multidrug-resistant bacteria, they also demonstrate important functions in immunomodulation, tumor cell lysis, and tissue regeneration. These properties have made them a topic of clinical interest for plastic surgeons because of their potential applications as novel antibiotics, wound healing medications, and cancer therapies. The rising clinical interest has led to a robust body of literature describing host defense peptides in great depth and breadth. Numerous mechanisms have been observed to explain their diverse functions, which rely on specific structural characteristics. However, these peptides remain mostly experimental, with limited translation to clinical practice because of numerous failures to achieve acceptable results in human trials.
Despite the broad ranging potential of these peptides for use in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery, they are rarely discussed in the literature or at scientific meetings. In this review, the authors provide a summary of the background, structure, function, bacterial resistance, and clinical applications of host defense peptides with the goal of stimulating host defense peptide–based innovation within the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery.