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UBC Theses and Dissertations

In vivo efficacy of novel antibacterial and immunomodulatory peptides Waldbrook, Matthew George


Despite the success of modern medicine in treating infections, infectious diseases remain a major source of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The evolution of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria means that new innovations in therapeutics must be pursued to combat this emerging threat. A novel approach is to utilize the anti-infective properties of endogenous host defense peptides by creating smaller synthetic peptides with enhanced protective activities. Some of these peptides directly kill bacteria and many display varied immunomodulatory activities, enhancing the host innate immune response to more effectively clear an infection. Here I examined the efficacy of several synthetic peptides in a murine model of invasive bacterial infection, induced by the Gram positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Several peptides were able to significantly reduce peritoneal bacterial load in vivo by up to 4-logs relative to the controls, either through direct antibacterial killing or immunomodulatory activity. The latter class was studied in more detail; in particular, the peptides IDR-1 and 1002 displayed significant immunomodulatory effects in vivo. Both peptides were able to significantly induce the proinflammatory chemokines MCP-1, RANTES and KC, as well as increased recruitment of neutrophils and monocytes to the site of infection. These effects were not dependent on live bacteria, as heat inactivated S. aureus was also able to induce chemokines and cell migration. Mice that had been depleted of macrophages did not respond to peptide treatment, indicating that macrophages are an important effector cells through which immunomodulatory peptides counter infections. These results suggest that synthetic peptides have the potential to become a viable treatment option for bacterial infections.

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