Microb Pathog

. 2021 Sep 18;105205.
doi: 10.1016/j.micpath.2021.105205. Online ahead of print.
Human beta-defensins 2 and 4 are dysregulated in patients with coronavirus disease 19

Noor T Al-Bayatee 1 , Ali H Ad'hiah 2



Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have recently been proposed as significant immunological factors involved in pathogenesis of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19). Human β-defensins (hBDs) are among these AMPs, but the evidence is not well detailed. Therefore, this case-control study analyzed levels of hBD1, hBD2, hBD3 and hBD4 in serum of 103 patients with severe COVID-19 and 105 healthy controls. Most patients were older than 45 years (80.6%), and more than 50% suffered from chronic diseases (cardiovascular and diabetes). Results revealed that median levels of hBD1 and hBD3 did not show significant differences between patients and controls. On the contrary, HBD2 levels were significantly decreased in patients compared to controls (1036 vs. 1289 ng/L; p < 0.001), while HBD4 levels were significantly increased (4.04 vs. 2.43 ng/L; p < 0.001). Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis demonstrated the predictive significance of hBD2 (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.795; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.729-0.861; p < 0.001) and hBD4 (AUC = 0.816; 95% CI = 0.756-0.876; p < 0.001) in discriminating between COVID-19 patients and controls. Logistic regression analysis (adjusted for age, gender and body mass index) confirmed the significance of hBD2 (odds ratio [OR] = 0.996; corrected p = 0.004) and hBD4 (OR = 4.948; corrected p < 0.001) in susceptibility to COVID-19. In conclusion, the study indicated that hBD2 showed low levels in serum of patients infected with severe COVID-19, while hBD4 showed elevated levels. These differences in HBDs were not influenced by age, gender, body mass index, or chronic disease.

Keywords: Age; COVID-19; Human β-defensin; Logistic regression analysis; Receiver operating characteristic.