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Biological Chemistry

Editor-in-Chief: Brüne, Bernhard

Editorial Board: Buchner, Johannes / Lei, Ming / Ludwig, Stephan / Thomas, Douglas D. / Turk, Boris / Wittinghofer, Alfred

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Volume 398, Issue 4


The role of whey acidic protein four-disulfide-core proteins in respiratory health and disease

Donna M. Small
  • Corresponding author
  • Airway Innate Immunity Research (AiiR) Group, Centre for Experimental Medicine, The Wellcome – Wolfson Building, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, Northern Ireland
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Declan F. Doherty
  • Airway Innate Immunity Research (AiiR) Group, Centre for Experimental Medicine, The Wellcome – Wolfson Building, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, Northern Ireland
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Caoifa M. Dougan
  • Airway Innate Immunity Research (AiiR) Group, Centre for Experimental Medicine, The Wellcome – Wolfson Building, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, Northern Ireland
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Sinéad Weldon
  • Airway Innate Immunity Research (AiiR) Group, Centre for Experimental Medicine, The Wellcome – Wolfson Building, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, Northern Ireland
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Clifford C. Taggart
  • Airway Innate Immunity Research (AiiR) Group, Centre for Experimental Medicine, The Wellcome – Wolfson Building, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, Northern Ireland
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2016-10-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/hsz-2016-0262


Members of the whey acidic protein (WAP) or WAP four-disulfide-core (WFDC) family of proteins are a relatively under-explored family of low molecular weight proteins. The two most prominent WFDC proteins, secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) and elafin (or the precursor, trappin-2), have been shown to possess multiple functions including anti-protease, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. It is therefore of no surprise that both SLPI and elafin/trappin-2 have been developed as potential therapeutics. Given the abundance of SLPI and elafin/trappin-2 in the human lung, most work in the area of WFDC research has focused on the role of WFDC proteins in protecting the lung from proteolytic attack. In this review, we will outline the current evidence regarding the expanding role of WFDC protein function with a focus on WFDC activity in lung disease as well as emerging data regarding the function of some of the more recently described WFDC proteins.

Keywords: host defence; inflammation; lung disease; protease inhibitors


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About the article

Corresponding author: Dr. Donna M. Small, Airway Innate Immunity Research (AiiR) Group, Centre for Experimental Medicine, The Wellcome – Wolfson Building, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, Northern Ireland

Received: 2016-08-03

Accepted: 2016-10-13

Published Online: 2016-10-17

Published in Print: 2017-04-01

Citation Information: Biological Chemistry, Volume 398, Issue 4, Pages 425–440, ISSN (Online) 1437-4315, ISSN (Print) 1431-6730, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/hsz-2016-0262.

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