Open Access Research article

Pattern of mRNA expression of β-defensins in basal cell carcinoma

T Gambichler*, M Skrygan, J Huyn, FG Bechara, M Sand, P Altmeyer and A Kreuter

Author Affiliations

Department of Dermatology and Allergology, Ruhr-University Bochum Gudrunstr. 56, D-44791 Bochum, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2006, 6:163  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-163

Published: 23 June 2006



Although the human β-defensins hBDs today seem to have diverse functional activities in innate antimicrobial immunity, a few reports also indicated an altered expression of these antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in tissues of cancers such as oral squamous cell carcinoma. The present work was aimed on the study of hBD gene expression in basal cell carcinoma (BCC) which is the most common cancer in humans.


Twenty-two non-ulcerated BCCs (12 nodular type, 10 superficial type) have been analysed for the presence of hBD (1–3) mRNA by quantitative real-time RT-PCR. As controls, non-lesional skin specimens of BCC patients as well as samples of healthy subjects were assessed by RT-PCR.


hBD-1 levels in healthy controls and non-lesional skin of BCC patients were significantly (P < 0.05) higher than the levels observed in tumour tissue. Moreover, BCCs showed significantly (P < 0.05) increased mRNA expression of hBD-2 as compared to controls. There was no significant (P > 0.05) difference between lesional mRNA levels for hBD-3 and those levels observed in controls. The mRNA expression of hBDs (1–3) found in nodular and superficial BCCs did not significantly (P > 0.05) differ.


The gene expression patterns of hBD-1 and hBD-2 are for the first time shown to be significantly altered in non-ulcerated BCCs as compared to intra-individual and inter-individual controls, respectively. The present findings may indicate that beside the antimicrobial activity of AMPs, hBDs may also play a role in the pathogenesis of BCC. However, functional and immunohistological studies investigating hBDs in patients with BCC are needed to confirm our data.