Recently, bioactive peptides have attracted attention for their therapeutic applications in the pharmaceutical industry. Among them, antimicrobial peptides are candidates for new antibiotic drugs. Since pseudin-2 (Ps), isolated from the skin of the paradoxical frog Pseudis paradoxa
, shows broad-spectrum antibacterial activity with high cytotoxicity, we previously designed Ps-K18 with a Lys substitution for Leu18
in Ps, which showed high antibacterial activity and low toxicity. Here, we examined the potency of Ps-K18, aiming to develop antibiotics derived from bioactive peptides for the treatment of Gram-negative sepsis. We first investigated the antibacterial mechanism of Ps-K18 based on confocal micrographs and field emission scanning electron microscopy, confirming that Ps-K18 targets the bacterial membrane. Anti-inflammatory mechanism of Ps-K18 was investigated by secreted alkaline phosphatase reporter gene assays and RT-PCR, which revealed that Ps-K18 activates innate defense via Toll-like receptor 4-mediated nuclear factor-kappa B signaling pathways. Moreover, we investigated the antiseptic effect of Ps-K18 using a lipopolysaccharide or Escherichia coli
K1-induced septic shock mouse model. Ps-K18 significantly reduced bacterial growth and inflammatory responses in the septic shock model. Ps-K18 showed low renal and liver toxicity and attenuated lung damage effectively. This study suggests that Ps-K18 is a potent peptide antibiotic that could be applied therapeutically to Gram-negative sepsis.
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