Within the repertoire of antibiotics available to a prescribing clinician, the majority affect a broad range of microorganisms, including the normal flora. The ecological disruption resulting from antibiotic treatment frequently results in secondary infections or other negative clinical consequences. To address this problem, our laboratory has recently developed a new class of pathogen-selective molecules, called specifically (or selectively) targeted antimicrobial peptides (STAMPs), based on the fusion of a species-specific targeting peptide domain with a wide-spectrum antimicrobial peptide domain. In the current study, we focused on achieving targeted killing of Streptococcus mutans, a cavity-causing bacterium that resides in a multispecies microbial community (dental plaque). In particular, we explored the possibility of utilizing a pheromone produced by S. mutans, namely, the competence stimulating peptide (CSP), as a STAMP targeting domain to mediate S. mutans-specific delivery of an antimicrobial peptide domain. We discovered that STAMPs constructed with peptides derived from CSP were potent against S. mutans grown in liquid or biofilm states but did not affect other oral streptococci tested. Further studies showed that an 8-amino-acid region within the CSP sequence is sufficient for targeted delivery of the antimicrobial peptide domain to S. mutans. The STAMPs presented here are capable of eliminating S. mutans from multispecies biofilms without affecting closely related noncariogenic oral streptococci, indicating the potential of these molecules to be developed into “probiotic” antibiotics which could selectively eliminate pathogens while preserving the protective benefits of a healthy normal flora.
Dental biofilms are complex communities composed largely of harmless bacteria. Certain pathogenic species including Streptococcus (S. mutans) can become predominant when host factors such as dietary sucrose intake imbalance the biofilm ecology. Current approaches to control S. mutans infection are not pathogen-specific and eliminate the entire oral community along with any protective benefits provided. Here, we tested the hypothesis that removal of S. mutans from the oral community through targeted antimicrobial therapy achieves protection against subsequent S. mutans colonization.
Controlled amounts of S. mutans were mixed with S. mutans-free saliva, grown into biofilms and visualized by antibody staining and cfu quantization. Two specifically-targeted antimicrobial peptides (STAMPs) against S. mutans were tested for their ability to reduce S. mutans biofilm incorporation upon treatment of the inocula. The resulting biofilms were also evaluated for their ability to resist subsequent exogenous S. mutans colonization.
S. mutans colonization was considerably reduced (9 ± 0.4 fold reduction, p=0.01) when the surface was preoccupied with saliva-derived biofilms. Furthermore, treatment with S. mutans-specific STAMPs yielded S. mutans-deficient biofilms with very significant protection against further S. mutans colonization (5min treatment: 38 ± 13 fold reduction p=0.01; 16 hr treatment: 96 ± 28 fold reduction p=0.07).
S. mutans infection is reduced by the presence of existing biofilms. Thus maintaining a healthy or “normal” biofilm through targeted antimicrobial therapy (such as the STAMPs) could represent an effective strategy for the treatment and prevention of S. mutans colonization in the oral cavity and caries progression.
Targeted antimicrobial therapy; antimicrobial peptide; biofilm; Streptococcus mutans; protective colonization; caries
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common opportunistic human pathogen that is associated with life-threatening acute infections and chronic airway colonization during cystic fibrosis. Previously, we converted the wide-spectrum antimicrobial peptide novispirin G10 into a selectively-targeted antimicrobial peptide (STAMP), G10KHc. Compared to novispirin G10, the STAMP had an enhanced ability to kill Pseudomonas mendocina. In this study, we explored the activity of G10KHc against P. aeruginosa. G10KHc was found to be highly active (as active as tobramycin) against P. aeruginosa clinical isolates. Most interestingly, we observed a synergistic-like enhancement in killing activity when biofilms and planktonic cultures of P. aeruginosa were cotreated with G10KHc and tobramycin. The data indicate that the mechanism of enhanced activity may involve increased tobramycin uptake due to G10KHc-mediated cell membrane disruption. These results suggest that G10KHc may be useful against P. aeruginosa during acute and chronic infection states, especially when it is coadministered with tobramycin.
Unlike many pathogens are foreign invaders, oral “pathogens” such as Streptococcus mutans are part of the “normal” oral microbial flora. While they express certain pathogenic properties, the balance of synergistic and antagonistic interactions determines whether these çommensal pathogens cause damage or not. Recognition of these microbial ecology based pathogeneses argues for new strategies for disease treatment and prevention.
Probiotics, potentially beneficial live bacteria or yeasts, have been used to combat dental caries. This includes the application of S. mutans types that cannot produce acids or other bacteria that interfere with the pathogenic effects of S. mutans. While these approaches show therapeutic effects against S. mutans experimentally, the conversion into commercial products remains a challenge, due to safety and shelf life issues. New high-tech approaches, such as quorum sensing interference of pathogenic bacteria or targeted antimicrobial therapies, offer novel ways to achieve probiotic effects against dental caries.
The specifically targeted antimicrobial peptide (STAMP) C16G2 was developed to target the cariogenic oral pathogen Streptococcus mutans. Because the design of this peptide was novel, we sought to better understand the mechanism through which it functioned. Compared to antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) with wide spectra of activity, the STAMP C16G2 has demonstrated specificity for S. mutans in a mixed-culture environment, resulting in the complete killing of S. mutans while having minimal effect on the other streptococci. In the current study, we sought to further confirm the selectivity of C16G2 and also compare its membrane activity to that of melittin B, a classical toxic AMP, in order to determine the STAMP's mechanism of cell killing. Disruption of S. mutans cell membranes by C16G2 was demonstrated by increased SYTOX green uptake and ATP efflux from the cells similar to those of melittin B. Treatment with C16G2 also resulted in a loss of membrane potential as measured by DiSC(3)5 fluorescence. In comparison, the individual moieties of C16G2 demonstrated no specificity and limited antimicrobial activity compared to those of the STAMP C16G2. The data suggest that C16G2 has a mechanism of action similar to that of traditional AMPs and kills S. mutans through disruption of the cell membrane, allowing small molecules to leak out of the cell, which is followed by a loss of membrane potential and cell death. Interestingly, this membrane activity is rapid and potent against S. mutans, but not other noncariogenic oral streptococci.
Currently available antimicrobials exhibit broad killing with regard to bacterial genera and species. Indiscriminate killing of microbes by these conventional antibiotics can disrupt the ecological balance of the indigenous microbial flora, often resulting in negative clinical consequences. Species-specific antimicrobials capable of precisely targeting pathogenic bacteria without damaging benign microorganisms provide a means of avoiding this problem. In this communication, we report the successful creation of the first synthetic, target-specific antimicrobial peptide, G10KHc, via addition of a rationally designed Pseudomonas-specific targeting moiety (KH) to a generally killing peptide (novispirin G10). The resulting chimeric peptide showed enhanced bactericidal activity and faster killing kinetics against Pseudomonas spp. than G10 alone. The enhanced killing activities are due to increased binding and penetration of the outer membrane of Pseudomonas sp. cells. These properties were not observed in tests of untargeted bacterial species, and this specificity allowed G10KHc to selectively eliminate Pseudomonas spp. from mixed cultures. This work lays a foundation for generating target-specific “smart” antimicrobials to complement currently available conventional antibiotics.
Antimicrobial peptides are found in all kingdoms of life. During the evolution of multicellular organisms, antimicrobial peptides were established as key elements of innate immunity. Most antimicrobial peptides are thought to work by disrupting the integrity of cell membranes, causing pathogen death. As antimicrobial peptides target the membrane structure, pathogens can only acquire resistance by a fundamental change in membrane composition. Hence, the evolution of pathogen resistance has been a slow process. Therefore antimicrobial peptides are valuable alternatives to classical antibiotics against which multiple drug-resistant bacteria have emerged. For potential therapeutic applications as antibiotics a thorough knowledge of their mechanism of action is essential. Despite the increasingly comprehensive understanding of the biochemical properties of these peptides, the actual mechanism by which antimicrobial peptides lyse microbes is controversial.
Here we investigate how Sushi 1, an antimicrobial peptide derived from the horseshoe crab (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda), induces lysis of Gram-negative bacteria. To follow the entire process of antimicrobial action, we performed a variety of experiments including transmission electron microscopy and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy as well as single molecule tracking of quantum dot-labeled antimicrobial peptides on live bacteria. Since in vitro measurements do not necessarily correlate with the in vivo action of a peptide we developed a novel fluorescent live bacteria lysis assay. Using fully functional nanoparticle-labeled Sushi 1, we observed the process of antimicrobial action at the single-molecule level.
Recently the hypothesis that many antimicrobial peptides act on internal targets to kill the bacterium has been discussed. Here, we demonstrate that the target sites of Sushi 1 are outer and inner membranes and are not cytosolic. Further, our findings suggest four successive steps of the bactericidal process: 1) Binding, mediated mainly by charged residues in the peptide; 2) Peptide association, as peptide concentration increases evidenced by a change in diffusive behavior; 3) Membrane disruption, during which lipopolysaccharide is not released; and 4) Lysis, by leakage of cytosolic content through large membrane defects.
Over the last decade, decreasing effectiveness of conventional antimicrobial-drugs has caused serious problems due to the rapid emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogens. Furthermore, biofilms, which are microbial communities that cause serious chronic infections and dental plaque, form environments that enhance antimicrobial resistance. As a result, there is a continuous search to overcome or control such problems, which has resulted in antimicrobial peptides being considered as an alternative to conventional drugs. Antimicrobial peptides are ancient host defense effector molecules in living organisms. These peptides have been identified in diverse organisms and synthetically developed by using peptidomimic techniques. This review was conducted to demonstrate the mode of action by which antimicrobial peptides combat multidrug-resistant bacteria and prevent biofilm formation and to introduce clinical uses of these compounds for chronic disease, medical devices, and oral health. In addition, combinations of antimicrobial peptides and conventional drugs were considered due to their synergetic effects and low cost for therapeutic treatment.
mode of action; lipopolysaccharide; quorum sensing; dental plaque; synergetic effect
Defensins represent an important class of antimicrobial peptides. These effector molecules of the innate immune system act as endogenous antibiotics to protect the organism against infections with pathogenic microorganisms. Mammalian defensins are classified into three distinct sub-families (α-, β- and θ-defensins) according to their specific intramolecular disulfide-bond pattern. The peptides exhibit an antimicrobial activity against a broad spectrum of microorganisms including bacteria and fungi. Alpha-Defensins are primarily synthesised in neutrophils and intestinal Paneth cells. They play a role in the pathogenesis of intestinal diseases and may regulate the flora of the intestinal tract. An equine intestinal α-defensin (DEFA1), the first characterised in the Laurasiatheria, shows a broad antimicrobial spectrum against human and equine pathogens. Here we report a first investigation of the repertoire of equine intestinal α-defensins. The equine genome was screened for putative α-defensin genes by using known α-defensin sequences as matrices. Based on the obtained sequence information, a set of oligonucleotides specific to the α-defensin gene-family was designed. The products generated by reverse-transcriptase PCR with cDNA from the small intestine as template were sub-cloned and numerous clones were sequenced.
Thirty-eight equine intestinal α-defensin transcripts were determined. After translation it became evident that at least 20 of them may code for functional peptides. Ten transcripts lacked matching genomic sequences and for 14 α-defensin genes apparently present in the genome no appropriate transcript could be verified. In other cases the same genomic exons were found in different transcripts.
The large repertoire of equine α-defensins found in this study points to a particular importance of these peptides regarding animal health and protection from infectious diseases. Moreover, these findings make the horse an excellent species to study biological properties of α-defensins. Interestingly, the peptides were not found in other species of the Laurasiatheria to date. Comparison of the obtained transcripts with the genomic sequences in the current assembly of the horse (EquCab2.0) indicates that it is yet not complete and/or to some extent falsely assembled.
As part of the human gastrointestinal tract, the oral cavity represents a complex biological system and harbors diverse bacterial species. Unlike the gut microbiota which is often considered a health asset, studies of the oral commensal microbial flora have been largely limited to their implication in oral diseases such as dental caries and periodontal diseases; Little emphasis has been given to their potential beneficial roles, especially the protective effects against oral colonization by foreign/pathogenic bacteria. In this study, we used the salivary microbiota derived from healthy human subjects to investigate protective effects against the colonization and integration of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic bacterial pathogen, into developing and pre-formed salivary biofilms. When co-cultivated in saliva medium, P. aeruginosa persisted in the planktonic phase, but failed to integrate into salivary microbial community during biofilm formation. Furthermore, in the saliva medium supplemented with 0.05% (w/v) sucrose, the oral flora inhibited the growth of P. aeruginosa by producing lactic acid. More interestingly, while pre-formed salivary biofilms were able to prevent P. aeruginosa colonization, the same biofilms recovered from mild chlorhexidine gluconate treatment displayed a shift in microbial composition and showed a drastic reduction in protection. Our study indicates that normal oral communities with balanced microbial compositions could be important in effectively preventing the integration of foreign/pathogenic bacterial species, such as P. aeruginosa.
bacterial interference; microbial flora; oral cavity; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; salivary biofilm
Lactobacillus species maintain the vaginal ecosystem in a healthy condition by production of antimicrobial substances. Depletion of lactobacilli in the vagina results in bacterial vaginosis (BV), where the normal flora is replaced by several bacterial pathogens, usually Gardnerella vaginalis and obligate anaerobes. BV may cause complications such as premature labor, low birth weight and increased risk of HIV acquisition. The currently recommended antibiotic treatments for BV are not always effective and often lead to reoccurrence of the infection. In many cases, this is due to the antibiotic-resistant forms of the pathogens. Therefore, there is an interest in the development of treatments using antimicrobials derived primarily from Lactobacillus spp., such as ribosomally produced antimicrobial peptides (bacteriocins) and lactic acid. These substances effectively inhibit pathogenic bacteria, are safe and do not pose any threat to healthy vaginal Lactobacillus spp. It may be possible to find an effective treatment against BV while reducing the infection’s reoccurrence and the treatment-related complications through hurdle technology. This would be achieved by combining antimicrobials produced by Lactobacillus spp. with different natural antimicrobials obtained from plants or other non-pathogenic organisms.
Bacterial vaginosis; Bacteriocins; Lactic acid; Lactobacilli; Natural antimicrobials
Previously we reported a novel strategy of “targeted killing” through the design of narrow-spectrum molecules known as specifically targeted antimicrobial peptides (STAMPs) (R. Eckert et al., Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 50:3651-3657, 2006; R. Eckert et al., Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 50:1480-1488, 2006). Construction of these molecules requires the identification and the subsequent utilization of two conjoined yet functionally independent peptide components: the targeting and killing regions. In this study, we sought to design and synthesize a large number of STAMPs targeting Streptococcus mutans, the primary etiologic agent of human dental caries, in order to identify candidate peptides with increased killing speed and selectivity compared with their unmodified precursor antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). We hypothesized that a combinatorial approach, utilizing a set number of AMP, targeting, and linker regions, would be an effective method for the identification of STAMPs with the desired level of activity. STAMPs composed of the Sm6 S. mutans binding peptide and the PL-135 AMP displayed selectivity at MICs after incubation for 18 to 24 h. A STAMP where PL-135 was replaced by the B-33 killing domain exhibited both selectivity and rapid killing within 1 min of exposure and displayed activity against multispecies biofilms grown in the presence of saliva. These results suggest that potent and selective STAMP molecules can be designed and improved via a tunable “building-block” approach.
Antimicrobial peptides serve as a first line of innate immune defense against invading organisms such as bacteria and viruses. In this study, we hypothesized that peptides produced by a normal microbial resident of human skin, Staphylococcus epidermidis, might also act as an antimicrobial shield and contribute to normal defense at the epidermal interface. We show by circular dichroism and tryptophan spectroscopy that phenol-soluble modulins (PSMs) γ and δ produced by S. epidermidis have an α-helical character and a strong lipid membrane interaction similar to mammalian AMPs such as LL-37. Both PSMs directly induced lipid vesicle leakage and exerted selective antimicrobial action against skin pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus. PSMs functionally cooperated with each other and LL-37 to enhance antimicrobial action. Moreover, PSMs reduced Group A Streptococcus (GAS) but not the survival of S. epidermidis on mouse skin. Thus, these data suggest that the production of PSMγ and PSMδ by S. epidermidis can benefit cutaneous immune defense by selectively inhibiting the survival of skin pathogens while maintaining the normal skin microbiome.
The skin continuously encounters microbial pathogens. To defend against this, cells of the epidermis and dermis have evolved several innate strategies to prevent infection. Antimicrobial peptides are one of the primary mechanisms used by the skin in the early stages of immune defense. In general, antimicrobial peptides have broad antibacterial activity against gram-positive and negative bacteria and also show antifungal and antiviral activity. The antimicrobial activity of most peptides occurs as a result of unique structural characteristics that enable them to disrupt the microbial membrane while leaving human cell membranes intact. However, antimicrobial peptides also act on host cells to stimulate cytokine production, cell migration, proliferation, maturation, and extracellular matrix synthesis. The production by human skin of antimicrobial peptides such as defensins and cathelicidins occurs constitutively but also greatly increases after infection, inflammation or injury. Some skin diseases show altered expression of antimicrobial peptides, partially explaining the pathophysiology of these diseases. Thus, current research suggests that understanding how antimicrobial peptides modify susceptibility to microbes, influence skin inflammation, and modify wound healing, provides greater insight into the pathophysiology of skin disorders and offers new therapeutic opportunities.
antimicrobial peptides; defensin; cathelicidin; dermcidin; innate immunity; skin diseases
Streptococcus mutans, the major etiological agent of dental caries, has a measurable impact on domestic and global health care costs. Though persistent in the oral cavity despite conventional oral hygiene, S. mutans can be excluded from intact oral biofilms through competitive exclusion by other microorganisms. This suggests that therapies capable of selectively eliminating S. mutans while limiting the damage to the normal oral flora might be effective long-term interventions to fight cariogenesis. To meet this challenge, we designed C16G2, a novel synthetic specifically targeted antimicrobial peptide with specificity for S. mutans. C16G2 consists of a S. mutans-selective ‘targeting region’ comprised of a fragment from S. mutans competence stimulation peptide (CSP) conjoined to a ‘killing region’ consisting of a broad-spectrum antimicrobial peptide (G2). In vitro studies have indicated that C16G2 has robust efficacy and selectivity for S. mutans, and not other oral bacteria, and affects targeted bacteria within seconds of contact.
In the present study, we evaluated C16G2 for clinical utility in vitro, followed by a pilot efficacy study to examine the impact of a 0.04% (w/v) C16G2 rinse in an intra-oral remineralization/demineralization model.
Results and Conclusions
C16G2 rinse usage was associated with reductions in plaque and salivary S. mutans, lactic acid production, and enamel demineralization. The impact on total plaque bacteria was minimal. These results suggest that C16G2 is effective against S. mutans in vivo and should be evaluated further in the clinic.
Antimicrobial; Antimicrobial peptide; Caries; Demineralization; Dental plaque; Lactic acid; Mouth rinse; Oral therapeutic; Selective antibiotic; Selective therapeutic; Specifically targeted antimicrobial peptide; Streptococcus mutans; Targeted antimicrobial
Halocidin is an antimicrobial peptide found in the tunicate. A series of experiments were previously conducted in an attempt to develop a novel antibiotic derived from halocidin, as the peptide was determined to evidence profound antimicrobial activity against a variety of antibiotic-resistant microbes, with significantly less toxicity to human blood cells. In this study, we assessed the validity of one of the halocidin congeners, called Khal, as a new antibiotic for the treatment of systemic bacterial infections. Our in vitro antimicrobial tests showed that the MICs of Khal against several gram-positive bacteria were below 16 μg/ml in the presence of salt. We also determined that Khal retained sufficient target selectivity to discern microbial and human blood cells and was therefore capable of efficiently killing invading pathogens. Furthermore, Khal caused no aggregation problems upon incubation with human serum and also proved to be resistant to proteolysis by enzymes occurring in human serum. In the following experiments conducted with a mouse model of Listeria monocytogenes infection, we demonstrated that a single intravenous inoculation with Khal resulted in significant therapeutic effects on the survival of mice. In addition, our bacterial-enumeration analysis showed that after Listeria infection, livers and spleens from Khal-treated mice generated a great deal fewer recoverable CFU. Finally, the antibiotic effects of Khal were evaluated under confocal microscopy after we immunostained the liver sections with anti-Khal antibody. It was concluded that Khal bound specifically to the surfaces of bacteria colonized in the mouse liver and killed the bacteria rapidly.
Background. Microbial infections are the most serious complications associated with indwelling central venous catheters. A catheter lock solution that is both antibacterial and antithrombotic is needed. The goal of this study was to determine whether a new catheter lock solution containing citrate, methylene blue and parabens has antimicrobial properties against planktonic bacteria and against sessile bacteria within a biofilm. These effects were compared to the antimicrobial properties of heparin at 2500 units/ml.
Methods. The tested solution (C/MB/P comprising 7% sodium citrate, 0.05% methylene blue and 0.165% parabens) and individual components were challenged against gram-positive and gram-negative organisms and fungi. Control solutions were heparin with preservatives. Studies included evaluation of eradication of planktonic bacteria and sessile organisms in a biofilm grown on polymeric and glass coupons. Biofilm samples were inspected by scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy and vital stains.
Results. The C/MB/P solution, contrary to heparin, kills most tested planktonic microorganisms within 1 h of incubation. All tested organisms have an MIC of 25% or less of the original concentration of a new catheter lock. Bacteria strains did not develop resistance over more than 40 passages of culture suspensions. The C/MB/P solution is able to kill nearly all sessile bacteria in biofilm growth on plastic or glass discs in 1 h. Microscopic methods demonstrated extensive physical elimination of biofilm deposits from treated coupons. In contrast, heparin had a minimal effect on planktonic or biofilm organisms.
Conclusions. The new multicomponent lock solution has strong antimicrobial properties against both planktonic and sessile microorganisms. By comparison, heparin with preservative has weak antibacterial properties against planktonic and biofilm bacteria. The tested catheter lock may have usefulness in preventing bacterial colonization of haemodialysis catheters and diminishing the incidence of catheter-related bacteraemia.
biofilm; catheter infection; CRBSI; haemodialysis; lock solution
Abrams, Gerald D. (The University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor), and Jane E. Bishop. Effect of the normal microbial flora on the resistance of the small intestine to infection. J. Bacteriol. 92:1604–1608. 1966.—Mucosal structure in the small intestine is known to be influenced by the normal microbial flora. This suggests that mucosal resistance to invasion by enteric pathogens might also be affected by the flora. To assess this possibility, germ-free and conventional mice were challenged with Salmonella typhimurium, and both the growth of organisms within the intestinal lumen and the translocation to mesenteric lymph nodes were studied quantitatively. There were significantly more organisms 24 hr after intragastric challenge in the mesenteric nodes of germ-free animals than in those of conventional ones. However, since intraluminal growth in the intestine was also greater in germ-free animals, no conclusion could be drawn about mucosal resistance per se. Results were similar when the challenge was intraduodenal. However, when intestinal emptying was prevented by ileal ligation before challenge, both intraluminal growth and translocation of S. typhimurium were equal in the two groups of mice. It is concluded from these data, as well as from preliminary dye studies of intestinal motility, that the normal flora does not influence mucosal resistance directly, but may alter enteric infection by affecting intestinal emptying.
Dental plaque is a structurally- and functionally-organized biofilm. Plaque forms in an ordered way and has a diverse microbial composition that, in health, remains relatively stable over time (microbial homeostasis). The predominant species from diseased sites are different from those found in healthy sites, although the putative pathogens can often be detected in low numbers at normal sites. In dental caries, there is a shift toward community dominance by acidogenic and acid-tolerating species such as mutans streptococci and lactobacilli, although other species with relevant traits may be involved. Strategies to control caries could include inhibition of biofilm development (e.g. prevention of attachment of cariogenic bacteria, manipulation of cell signaling mechanisms, delivery of effective antimicrobials, etc.), or enhancement of the host defenses. Additionally, these more conventional approaches could be augmented by interference with the factors that enable the cariogenic bacteria to escape from the normal homeostatic mechanisms that restrict their growth in plaque and out compete the organisms associated with health. Evidence suggests that regular conditions of low pH in plaque select for mutans streptococci and lactobacilli. Therefore, the suppression of sugar catabolism and acid production by the use of metabolic inhibitors and non-fermentable artificial sweeteners in snacks, or the stimulation of saliva flow, could assist in the maintenance of homeostasis in plaque. Arguments will be presented that an appreciation of ecological principles will enable a more holistic approach to be taken in caries control.
Purpose. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are an essential part of innate immunity that evolved in most living organisms over 2.6 billion years to combat microbial challenge. These small cationic peptides are multifunctional as effectors of innate immunity on skin and mucosal surfaces and have demonstrated direct antimicrobial activity against various bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. This review summarizes their progress to date as commercial antimicrobial drugs for topical and systemic indications.
Methods. Literature review.
Results. Despite numerous clinical trials, no modified AMP has obtained Food & Drug Administration approval yet for any topical or systemic medical indications.
Conclusions. While AMPs are recognized as essential components of natural host innate immunity against microbial challenge, their usefulness as a new class of antimicrobial drugs still remains to be proven.
antibiotics; antimicrobial peptides; cathelicidin; cationic peptides; defensins
Antimicrobial proteins (peptides) are known to play important roles in the innate host defense mechanisms of most living organisms, including plants, insects, amphibians and mammals. They are also known to possess potent antibiotic activity against bacteria, fungi, and even certain viruses. Recently, the rapid emergence of microbial pathogens that are resistant to currently available antibiotics has triggered considerable interest in the isolation and investigation of the mode of action of antimicrobial proteins (peptides). Plants produce a variety of proteins (peptides) that are involved in the defense against pathogens and invading organisms, including ribosome-inactivating proteins, lectins, protease inhibitors and antifungal peptides (proteins). Specially, the protease inhibitors can inhibit aspartic, serine and cysteine proteinases. Increased levels of trypsin and chymotrypsin inhibitors correlated with the plants resistance to the pathogen. Usually, the purification of antimicrobial proteins (peptides) with protease inhibitor activity was accomplished by salt-extraction, ultrafiltration and C18 reverse phase chromatography, successfully. We discuss the relation between antimicrobial and anti-protease activity in this review. Protease inhibitors from plants potently inhibited the growth of a variety of pathogenic bacterial and fungal strains and are therefore excellent candidates for use as the lead compounds for the development of novel antimicrobial agents.
plants; chromatographic columns; antimicrobial peptide; pathogenic bacterial and fungal strains; protease inhibitors; novel antimicrobial agents
In the last few years, the number of bacteria with enhanced resistance to conventional antibiotics has dramatically increased. Most of such bacteria belong to regular microbial flora, becoming a real challenge, especially for immune-depressed patients. Since the treatment is sometimes extremely expensive, and in some circumstances completely inefficient for the most severe cases, researchers are still determined to discover novel compounds. Among them, host-defense peptides (HDPs) have been found as the first natural barrier against microorganisms in nearly all living groups. This molecular class has been gaining attention every day for multiple reasons. For decades, it was believed that these defense peptides had been involved only with the permeation of the lipid bilayer in pathogen membranes, their main target. Currently, it is known that these peptides can bind to numerous targets, as well as lipids including proteins and carbohydrates, from the surface to deep within the cell. Moreover, by using in vivo models, it was shown that HDPs could act both in pathogens and cognate hosts, improving immunological functions as well as acting through multiple pathways to control infections. This review focuses on structural and functional properties of HDP peptides and the additional strategies used to select them. Furthermore, strategies to avoid problems in large-scale manufacture by using molecular and biochemical techniques will also be explored. In summary, this review intends to construct a bridge between academic research and pharmaceutical industry, providing novel insights into the utilization of HDPs against resistant bacterial strains that cause infections in humans.
host-defense peptides; innate immunity; microbial infections; antimicrobials
Peptides with broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity are found in the mucosal surfaces at many sites in the body, including the airway, the oral cavity, and the digestive tract. Based on their in vitro antimicrobial and other immunomodulatory activities, these host defense peptides have been proposed to play an important role in the innate defense against pathogenic microbial colonization. The genes that encode these peptides are up-regulated by pathogens, further supporting their role in innate immune defense. However, the differences in the local microbial environments between the generally sterile airway and the highly colonized oral cavity suggest a more complex role for these peptides in innate immunity. For example, β-defensin genes are induced in the airway by all bacteria and Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists primarily through an NF-κB-mediated pathway. In contrast, the same genes are induced in the gingival epithelium by only a subset of bacteria and TLR ligands, via different pathways. Furthermore, the environments into which the peptides are secreted—specifically saliva, gingival crevicular fluid, and airway surface fluid—differ greatly and can effect their respective activities in host defense. In this review, we examine the differences and similarities between host defense peptides in the oral cavity and the airway, to gain a better understanding of their contributions to immunity.
defensin; cathelicidin; innate immunity; antimicrobial peptide; host-pathogen interaction
Acute and chronic inflammations of mucosal surfaces are complex events in which the effector mechanisms of innate and adaptive immune systems interact with pathogenic and commensal bacteria. The role of constitutive and inducible antimicrobial peptides in intestinal inflammation has been investigated thoroughly over the recent years, and their involvement in various disease states is expanded ever more. Especially in the intestines, a critical balance between luminal bacteria and the antimicrobial peptides is essential, and a breakdown in barrier function by impaired production of defensins is already implicated in Crohn's disease. In this paper, we focus on the role of antimicrobial peptides in inflammatory processes along the gastrointestinal tract, while considering the resident and pathogenic flora encountered at the specific sites. The role of antimicrobial peptides in the primary events of inflammatory bowel diseases receives special attention.
Epithelia establish a microbial barrier against infection through the production of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). In this study, we investigated whether catestatin (Cst), a peptide derived from the neuroendocrine protein chromogranin A (CHGA), is a functional AMP and is present in the epidermis. We show that Cst is antimicrobial against relevant skin microbes, including Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, yeast, and fungi. The antimicrobial mechanism of Cst was found to be similar to other AMPs, as it was dependent on bacterial charge and growth conditions, and induced membrane disruption. The potential relevance of Cst against skin pathogens was supported by the observation that CHGA was expressed in keratinocytes. In human skin, CHGA was found to be proteolytically processed into the antimicrobial fragment Cst, thus enabling its AMP function. Furthermore, Cst expression in murine skin increased in response to injury and infection, providing potential for increased protection against infection. These data demonstrate that a neuroendocrine peptide has antimicrobial function against a wide assortment of skin pathogens and is upregulated upon injury, thus demonstrating a direct link between the neuroendocrine and cutaneous immune systems.