Elafin and SLPI (secretory leucocyte protease inhibitor) have multiple important roles both in normal homoeostasis and at sites of inflammation. These include antiprotease and antimicrobial activity as well as modulation of the response to LPS (lipopolysaccharide) stimulation. Elafin and SLPI are members of larger families of proteins secreted predominantly at mucosal sites, and have been shown to be modulated in multiple pathological conditions. We believe that elafin and SLPI are important molecules in the controlled functioning of the innate immune system, and may have further importance in the integration of this system with the adaptive immune response. Recent interest has focused on the influence of inflamed tissues on the recruitment and phenotypic modulation of cells of the adaptive immune system and, indeed, the local production of elafin and SLPI indicate that they are ideally placed in this regard. Functionally related proteins, such as the defensins and cathelicidins, have been shown to have direct effects upon dendritic cells with potential alteration of their phenotype towards type I or II immune responses. This review addresses the multiple functions of elafin and SLPI in the inflammatory response and discusses further their roles in the development of the adaptive immune response.

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