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J Immunol. 1995 May 15;154(10):5403-10.

Antibacterial proteins of granulocytes differ in interaction with endotoxin. Comparison of bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein, p15s, and defensins.

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Department of Microbiology, New York University School of Medicine, NY 10016, USA.


Bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein (BPI), antibacterial 15-kDa protein isoforms (p15s), and defensins (neutrophil peptides or NPs) are granule-associated antibacterial proteins of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) that have both direct and synergistic growth inhibitory activity against Gram-negative bacteria. In this study, we have compared in vitro the abilities of these antibacterial proteins, alone and in combination, to inhibit the endotoxic activity of isolated LPS and whole bacteria. All three proteins blocked endotoxin activity in: 1) the Limulus amoebocyte lysate assay, 2) priming of PMN for enhanced arachidonate release, and 3) stimulating leukocyte oxidase activity in 1% blood. However, the proteins differ markedly in both relative potency (BPI >> p15s = NP1) in the presence of the plasma LPS-binding protein and in the range of LPS chemotypes that can be inhibited. BPI potently neutralizes LPS of any chemotype, but p15s and defensins are less active against long-chain (S-type) LPS. In whole blood ex vivo, the p15s and NP1 are approximately 1000-fold less potent than BPI, but at subinhibitory doses act in synergy with BPI to inhibit the TNF-inducing activity of a serum-resistant encapsulated strain of Escherichia coli (K1/r). The anti-endotoxic effects of p15 and NP1 against E. coli K1/r in whole blood appear secondary to growth arrest, because, in marked contrast to BPI, they are not evident against nonviable bacteria (pretreated with antibiotic) nor isolated LPS. Thus, BPI stands out for its ability to inhibit isolated or bacterial LPS under physiologic conditions. However, p15s and defensins may also contribute to suppression of endotoxic signaling by Gram-negative bacteria via synergistic (with BPI) growth inhibition upon extracellular release of these proteins from PMN during inflammation.

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