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Biomaterials. 2014 Feb;35(6):2032-8. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.11.035. Epub 2013 Dec 4.

Anti-mycobacterial activities of synthetic cationic α-helical peptides and their synergism with rifampicin.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacy, National University of Singapore, 18 Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543, Singapore.
2
Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, 31 Biopolis Way, Singapore 138669, Singapore.
3
Section of Paediatrics, Division of Medicine, St Mary's Campus, Imperial College, London W2 1PG, United Kingdom.
4
Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, 31 Biopolis Way, Singapore 138669, Singapore. Electronic address: yyyang@ibn.a-star.edu.sg.
5
Department of Pharmacy, National University of Singapore, 18 Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543, Singapore. Electronic address: phaeplr@nus.edu.sg.

Abstract

The rapid emergence of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) and the lack of effective therapies have prompted the development of compounds with novel mechanisms of action to tackle this growing public health concern. In this study, a series of synthetic cationic α-helical antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) modified with different hydrophobic amino acids was investigated for their anti-mycobacterial activity, both alone and in synergistic combinations with the frontline anti-tuberculosis drug rifampicin. The addition of thiol groups by incorporating cysteine residues in the AMPs did not improve anti-mycobacterial activity against drug-susceptible and drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, while the enhancement of peptide hydrophobicity by adding methionine residues increased the efficacy of the primary peptide against all strains tested, including clinically isolated multidrug-resistant mycobacteria. The peptide with the optimal composition M(LLKK)2M was bactericidal, and eradicated mycobacteria via a membrane-lytic mechanism as demonstrated by confocal microscopic studies. Mycobacteria did not develop resistance after multiple exposures to sub-lethal doses of the peptide. In addition, the peptide displayed synergism with rifampicin against both Mycobacterium smegmatis and Mycobacterium bovis BCG and additivity against M. tuberculosis. Moreover, such combination therapy is effective in delaying the emergence of rifampicin resistance. The ability to potentiate anti-TB drug activity, kill drug-resistant bacteria and prevent drug resistance highlights the potential utility of the peptide in combating multidrug-resistant TB.

KEYWORDS:

Antimicrobial peptides; Drug resistance; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Synergy; α-Helical

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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