Bronchial epithelium repair by Esculentin-1a-derived antimicrobial peptides: involvement of metalloproteinase-9 and interleukin-8, and evaluation of peptides' immunogenicity

Floriana Cappiello, Danilo Ranieri, Veronica Carnicelli, Bruno Casciaro, Han-Tang Chen, Loretta Ferrera, Y Peter Di, Maria Luisa Mangoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The airway epithelium is seriously damaged upon pulmonary Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection, especially in cystic fibrosis (CF) sufferers. Therefore, the discovery of novel anti-infective agents accelerating healing of infected injured tissues is crucial. The antipseudomonal peptides esculentin-1a(1-21)NH2 and its diastereomer Esc(1-21)-1c (Esc peptides) hold promise in this respect. In fact, they stimulate airway epithelial wound repair, but no mechanistic insights are available. Here we demonstrated that this process occurs through promotion of cell migration by an indirect activation of epidermal growth factor receptor mediated by metalloproteinases. Furthermore, we showed an increased expression of metalloproteinase 9, at both gene and protein levels, in peptide-treated bronchial epithelial cells with a functional or mutated form of CF transmembrane conductance regulator. In addition, the two peptides counteracted the inhibitory effect of Pseudomonas lipopolysaccharide (mimicking an infection condition) on the wound healing activity of the airway epithelium, and they enhanced the production of interleukin-8 from both types of cells. Finally, no immunogenicity was discovered for Esc peptides, suggesting their potential safety for clinical usage. Besides representing a step forward in understanding the molecular mechanism underlying the peptide-induced wound healing activity, these studies have contributed to highlight Esc peptides as valuable therapeutics with multiple functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18988
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 12 2019


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