Esculentin-1a-derived peptides promote clearance of pseudomonas aeruginosa internalized in bronchial cells of cystic fibrosis patients and lung cell migration: Biochemical properties and a plausible mode of action

Floriana Cappiello, Antonio Di Grazia, Li Av Segev-Zarko, Silvia Scali, Loretta Ferrera, Luis Galietta, Alessandro Pini, Yechiel Shai, Y. Peter Di, Maria Luisa Mangoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the major microorganism colonizing the respiratory epithelium in cystic fibrosis (CF) sufferers. The widespread use of available antibiotics has drastically reduced their efficacy, and antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are a promising alternative. Among them, the frog skin-derived AMPs, i.e., Esc(1-21) and its diastereomer, Esc(1-21)-1c, have recently shown potent activity against free-living and sessile forms of P. aeruginosa. Importantly, this pathogen also escapes antibiotics treatment by invading airway epithelial cells. Here, we demonstrate that both AMPs kill Pseudomonas once internalized into bronchial cells which express either the functional or the AF508 mutant of the CF transmembrane conductance regulator. A higher efficacy is displayed by Esc(1-21)-1c (90% killing at 15 μM in 1 h). We also show the peptides' ability to stimulate migration of these cells and restore the induction of cell migration that is inhibited by Pseudomonas lipopolysaccharide when used at concentrations mimicking lung infection. This property of AMPs was not investigated before. Our findings suggest new therapeutics that not only eliminate bacteria but also can promote reepithelialization of the injured infected tissue. Confocal microscopy indicated that both peptides are intracellularly localized with a different distribution. Biochemical analyses highlighted that Esc(1-21)-1c is significantly more resistant than the all-L peptide to bacterial and human elastase, which is abundant in CF lungs. Besides proposing a plausible mechanism underlying the properties of the two AMPs, we discuss the data with regard to differences between them and suggest Esc(1-21)-1casa candidate for the development of a new multifunctional drug against Pseudomonas respiratory infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7252-7262
Number of pages11
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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