DAO 53:177-179 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/dao053177

Further aspects of the general antimicrobial properties of pinniped skin secretions

W. Meyer1,*, U. Seegers2, J. Herrmann1 , A. Schnapper1

1Anatomical Institute, School of Veterinary Medicine, Bischofsholer Damm 15, 30173 Hannover, Germany
2Institute of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmacy, School of Veterinary Medicine, 30559 Hannover, Germany

ABSTRACT: In 2 pinniped species with varying hair densities (the northern fur seal Callorhinus ursinus, and the common seal Phoca vitulina), the enzyme lysozyme and the peptide group β-defensins are demonstrated for the first time as products of the apocrine glands and the sebaceous glands in the common integument of mammals. These antimicrobial substances are also found in the epithelial lining of the hair follicles, between the corneal lamellae of the epidermis, and in dermal histiocytes. Thus, it becomes obvious that another general defense mechanism against microbes, in addition to free sugars (Meyer et al. [2000] Aspects of general properties of skin secretions in the common seal Phoca vitulina. Dis Aquat Org 41:77-79), is active on the skin surface of haired marine mammals to which glandular lysozyme and defensins are regularly transported, so that this biotope is protected against the proliferation of potential pathogens, e.g. bacteria and fungi.

KEY WORDS: Antimicrobial substances · Seals · Skin surface¬∑ Skin defense

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