Antimicrobial peptides (AMP) provide protection from infection by pathogenic microorganisms and restrict bacterial growth at epithelial surfaces to maintain mucosal homeostasis. In addition, they exert a significant anti-inflammatory activity. Here we analysed the anatomical distribution and biological activity of an orally administered AMP in the context of bacterial infection and host-microbial homeostasis.
Natural occurring antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are important components of the innate immune system of animals and plants. They are considered to be promising alternatives to conventional antibiotics. Here we present a comparative study of two synthetic peptides: Gm1, corresponding to the natural overall uncharged peptide from Galleria mellonella (Gm) and ?Gm1, a modified overall positively charged Gm1 variant. We have studied the interaction of the peptides with lipid membranes composed of different kinds of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and dimyristoylphosphatidylglycerol (DMPG), in some cases also dimyristoylphosphatidylethanolamine (DMPE) as representative lipid components of Gram-negative bacterial membranes, by applying Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Förster resonance energy transfer spectroscopy (FRET), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). Gm1 generates a destabilizing effect on the gel to liquid crystalline phase transition of the acyl chains of the lipids, as deduced from a decrease in the phase transition temperature and enthalpy, suggesting a fluidization, whereas ?Gm1 led to the opposite behavior. Further, FTIR analysis of the functional groups of the lipids participating in the interaction with the peptides indicated a shift in the band position and intensity of the asymmetric PO2(-) stretching vibration originating from the lipid phosphate groups, a consequence of the sterical changes in the head group region. Interestingly, FRET spectroscopy showed a similar intercalation of both peptides into the DMPG and LPS, but much less into the DMPE membrane systems. These results are discussed in the light of a possible use of the peptides as antimicrobial and anti-endotoxin drugs.
There are several human serum proteins for which no clear role is yet known. Among these is the abundant serum protein beta2-glycoprotein-I (?2GPI), which is known to bind to negatively charged phospholipids as well as to bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS), and was therefore proposed to play a role in the immune response. To understand the details of these interactions, a biophysical analysis of the binding of ?2GPI to LPS and phosphatidylserine (PS) was performed. The data indicate only a moderate tendency of the protein (1) to influence the LPS-induced cytokine production in vitro, (2) to react exothermally with LPS in a non-saturable way, and (3) to change its local microenvironment upon LPS association. Additionally, we found that the protein binds more strongly to phosphatidylserine (PS) than to LPS. Furthermore, ?2GPI converts the LPS bilayer aggregates into a stronger multilamellar form, and reduces the fluidity of the hydrocarbon moiety of LPS due to a rigidification of the acyl chains. From these data it can be concluded that ?2GPI plays a role as an immune-modulating agent, but there is much less evidence for a role in immune defense against bacterial toxins such as LPS.
We have performed freeze-fracture replica immunogold labelling of endotoxin preparations (lipid A and deep rough mutant LPS Re from Salmonella enterica sv. Minnesota), i.e. adding the endotoxins to human monocytes, labelling with monoclonal Abs recognizing either lipid A or LPS Re (A6 and A20 respectively), and fixing with immunogold secondary Ab. We have found that the endotoxins intercalated into the cell membranes with subsequent internalization by the cells. Surprisingly, membrane uptake took place only in the inner, plasmic leaflet of the plasma membrane, but there was no uptake of the outer leaflet for both compounds. Remarkable labelling could be also found for the two membranes of the nuclear envelope-in the case of lipid A only at the plasmic leaflet, but in the case of LPS Re on both leaflets. Isothermal calorimetric titration of the AB A20 with LPS and phospholipids showed that the Ab may bind not only to LPS but also to negatively charged phosphatidylserine. These results are discussed in the frame of the published concepts of cell activation induced by the endotoxins, i.e. how they are able to cause a conformational change of signalling proteins, such as the TLR4/MD2 complex.
Bacterial infections are known to cause severe health-threatening conditions, including sepsis. All attempts to get this disease under control failed in the past, and especially in times of increasing antibiotic resistance, this leads to one of the most urgent medical challenges of our times. We designed a peptide to bind with high affinity to endotoxins, one of the most potent pathogenicity factors involved in triggering sepsis. The peptide Pep19-2.5 reveals high endotoxin neutralization efficiency in vitro, and here, we demonstrate its antiseptic/anti-inflammatory effects in vivo in the mouse models of endotoxemia, bacteremia, and cecal ligation and puncture, as well as in an ex vivo model of human tissue. Furthermore, we show that Pep19-2.5 can bind and neutralize not only endotoxins but also other bacterial pathogenicity factors, such as those from the Gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This broad neutralization efficiency and the additive action of the peptide with common antibiotics makes it an exceptionally appropriate drug candidate against bacterial sepsis and also offers multiple other medication opportunities.
Endotoxins (lipopolysaccharides, LPS) are one of the strongest immunostimulators in nature, responsible for beneficial effects at low, and pathophysiological effects at high concentrations, the latter frequently leading to sepsis and septic shock associated with high mortality in critical care settings. There are no drugs specifically targeting the pathophysiology of sepsis, and new therapeutic agents are therefore urgently needed. The lipopolyamines are a novel class of small molecules designed to sequester and neutralize LPS. To understand the mechanisms underlying the binding and neutralization of LPS toxicity, we have performed detailed biophysical analyses of the interactions of LPS with candidate lipopolyamines which differ in their potencies of LPS neutralization. We examined gel-to-liquid crystalline phase behavior of LPS and of its supramolecular aggregate structures in the absence and presence of lipopolyamines, the ability of such compounds to incorporate into different membrane systems, and the thermodynamics of the LPS:lipopolyamine binding. We have found that the mechanisms which govern the inactivation process of LPS obey similar rules as found for other active endotoxin neutralizers such as certain antimicrobial peptides.
Bacterial endotoxins (lipopolysaccharides (LPS)) are strong elicitors of the human immune system by interacting with serum and membrane proteins such as lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LBP) and CD14 with high specificity. At LPS concentrations as low as 0.3 ng/ml, such interactions may lead to severe pathophysiological effects, including sepsis and septic shock. One approach to inhibit an uncontrolled inflammatory reaction is the use of appropriate polycationic and amphiphilic antimicrobial peptides, here called synthetic anti-LPS peptides (SALPs). We designed various SALP structures and investigated their ability to inhibit LPS-induced cytokine secretion in vitro, their protective effect in a mouse model of sepsis, and their cytotoxicity in physiological human cells. Using a variety of biophysical techniques, we investigated selected SALPs with considerable differences in their biological responses to characterize and understand the mechanism of LPS inactivation by SALPs. Our investigations show that neutralization of LPS by peptides is associated with a fluidization of the LPS acyl chains, a strong exothermic Coulomb interaction between the two compounds, and a drastic change of the LPS aggregate type from cubic into multilamellar, with an increase in the aggregate sizes, inhibiting the binding of LBP and other mammalian proteins to the endotoxin. At the same time, peptide binding to phospholipids of human origin (e.g., phosphatidylcholine) does not cause essential structural changes, such as changes in membrane fluidity and bilayer structure. The absence of cytotoxicity is explained by the high specificity of the interaction of the peptides with LPS.
Systemic bacterial infections are associated with high mortality. The access of bacteria or constituents thereof to systemic circulation induces the massive release of immunomodulatory mediators, ultimately causing tissue hypoperfusion and multiple-organ failure despite adequate antibiotic treatment. Lipid A, the "endotoxic principle" of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), is one of the major bacterial immunostimuli. Here we demonstrate the biological efficacy of rationally designed new synthetic antilipopolysaccharide peptides (SALPs) based on the Limulus anti-LPS factor for systemic application. We show efficient inhibition of LPS-induced cytokine release and protection from lethal septic shock in vivo, whereas cytotoxicity was not observed under physiologically relevant conditions and concentrations. The molecular mechanism of LPS neutralization was elucidated by biophysical techniques. The lipid A part of LPS is converted from its "endotoxic conformation," the cubic aggregate structure, into an inactive multilamellar structure, and the binding affinity of the peptide to LPS exceeds those of known LPS-binding proteins, such as LPS-binding protein (LBP). Our results thus delineate a novel therapeutic strategy for the clinical management of patients with septic shock.
We have synthesized a series of short peptides (17 to 20 amino acids), originally derived from Limulus anti-lipopolysaccharide factor LALF, which were primarily designed to act as antimicrobial agents as well as neutralizers of bacterial endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS), Here, two selected peptides, a 17- and a 19-mer, were characterized physicochemically and in biological test systems. The secondary structure of the peptides indicates essentially a ?-sheet including antiparallel strands, the latter being reduced when the peptides bind to LPS. A very strong exothermic binding due to attractive Coulomb interactions governs the LPS-peptide reaction, which additionally leads to a fluidization of the acyl chains of LPS. A comparison of the interaction of the peptide with negatively charged phosphatidylserine shows in contrast a rigidification of the acyl chains of the lipid. Finally, the biological assays reveal a diverging behaviour of the two peptides, with higher antibacterial activity of the 17-mer, but a much higher activity of the 19-mer in its ability to inhibit the LPS-induced cytokine production in human mononuclear cells.
The bacterial cell wall represents the primary target for antimicrobial agents. Microbial destruction is accompanied by the release of potent immunostimulatory membrane constituents. Both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria release a variety of lipoproteins and peptidoglycan fragments. Gram-positive bacteria additionally provide lipoteichoic acids, whereas Gram-negative bacteria also release lipopolysaccharide (LPS, endotoxin), essential component of the outer leaflet of the bacterial cell wall and one of the most potent immunostimulatory molecules known. Immune activation therefore can be considered as an adverse effect of antimicrobial destruction and killing during anti-infective treatment. In contrast to antibiotics, the use of cationic amphiphilic antimicrobial peptides allows both effective bacterial killing and inhibition of the immunostimulatory effect of the released bacterial membrane constituents. The administration of antimicrobial peptides alone or in combination with antibiotic agents thus represents a novel strategy in the antiinfective treatment with potentially important beneficial aspects. Here, data are presented which describe immunological and clinical aspects of the use of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) as therapeutic agents to treat bacterial infection and neutralize the immunostimulatory activity of released cell wall constituents.
The first barrier that an antimicrobial agent must overcome when interacting with its target is the microbial cell wall. In the case of Gram-negative bacteria, additional to the cytoplasmic membrane and the peptidoglycan layer, an outer membrane (OM) is the outermost barrier. The OM has an asymmetric distribution of the lipids with phospholipids and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) located in the inner and outer leaflets, respectively. In contrast, Gram-positive bacteria lack OM and possess a much thicker peptidoglycan layer compared to their Gram-negative counterparts. An additional class of amphiphiles exists in Gram-positives, the lipoteichoic acids (LTA), which may represent important structural components. These long molecules cross-bridge the entire cell envelope with their lipid component inserting into the outer leaflet of the cytoplasmic membrane and the teichoic acid portion penetrating into the peptidoglycan layer. Furthermore, both classes of bacteria have other important amphiphiles, such as lipoproteins, whose importance has become evident only recently. It is not known yet whether any of these amphiphilic components are able to stimulate the immune system under physiological conditions as constituents of intact bacteria. However, all of them have a very high pro-inflammatory activity when released from the cell. Such a release may take place through the interaction with the immune system, or with antibiotics (particularly with those targeting cell wall components), or simply by the bacterial division. Therefore, a given antimicrobial agent must ideally have a double character, namely, it must overcome the bacterial cell wall barrier, without inducing the liberation of the pro-inflammatory amphiphiles. Here, new data are presented which describe the development and use of membrane-active antimicrobial agents, in particular antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and lipopolyamines. In this way, essential progress was achieved, in particular with respect to the inhibition of deleterious consequences of bacterial infections such as severe sepsis and septic shock.
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