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Infect Immun. 2000 Mar;68(3):1655-63.

Influence of synthetic antiendotoxin peptides on lipopolysaccharide (LPS) recognition and LPS-induced proinflammatory cytokine responses by cells expressing membrane-bound CD14.

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Department of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA.


Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) are proinflammatory bacterial products implicated in the pathogenesis of gram-negative sepsis and septic shock. Polymyxin B (PMB), a cyclic, cationic peptide antibiotic, inhibits biological activities of LPS through high-affinity binding to the lipid A moiety. Small synthetic peptides have been designed to mimic the primary and secondary structures of PMB to determine structural requirements for binding and detoxification of lipid A and to assess possible therapeutic potential. The purpose of this study was to compare and contrast the endotoxin-neutralizing activities of two synthetic antiendotoxin peptides (SAEP-2 and SAEP-4), PMB, and an LPS core-specific monoclonal antibody (MAb), WN1 222-5, based on their abilities to inhibit CD14-mediated target cell uptake of fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated LPS, detected by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy, and LPS-induced production of the proinflammatory cytokines, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), as measured by bioassays. PMB and SAEP-4 produced dose-dependent inhibition of FITC-LPS uptake by CD14-transfected Chinese hamster ovary fibroblasts (CHO-CD14 cells) and by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The anti-LPS MAb, WN1 222-5, also blocked LPS uptake by these cells and synergized with PMB and SAEP-4. LPS-induced IL-6 release was inhibited by PMB, SAEP-4, and MAb WN1 222-5, and these inhibitory activities were additive or synergistic. LPS-induced TNF-alpha release by PBMC was also inhibited by PMB and SAEP-4 alone and in combination with anti-LPS MAb. SAEP-2, in contrast, produced comparatively minor decrements in cellular uptake of LPS and LPS-induced cytokine responses, and did so only in the absence of serum, while a nonsense peptide exerted no discernible inhibitory effect on LPS uptake or LPS-induced cytokine expression in the presence or absence of serum. Thus, PMB and SAEP-4, like the LPS-reactive MAb, WN1 222-5, block proinflammatory activities of LPS in part by preventing LPS recognition by membrane-bound CD14-expressing target cells. Differences in peptide structure, however, like those exemplified by SAEP-2 and SAEP-4, may differentially affect the endotoxin-neutralizing potency of these peptides despite similar binding activity against lipid A, reflecting possible differences in peptide solubility or peptide regulation of intracellular signal transduction.

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