Esculentin-1a(1-21)NH2: a frog skin-derived peptide for microbial keratitis

Satya Sree Kolar, Vincenzo Luca, Hasna Baidouri, Giuseppe Mannino, Alison McDermott, Maria Luisa Mangoni

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the primary bacterial pathogen causing contact lens related keratitis. Available ophthalmic agents have reduced efficacy and antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) hold promise as future antibiotics. Here we investigated the in vitro and in vivo anti-Pseudomonal activity of esculentin-1a(1-21)NH2, derived from a frog skin AMP. The data revealed a minimum inhibitory concentration between 2 and 16 μM against reference strains or drug-resistant clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa without showing toxicity to human corneal epithelial cells up to 50 μM. At 1 μM the peptide rapidly killed bacterial cells and this activity was fully retained in 150 mM sodium chloride and 70 % (v/v) human basal tears, particularly against the virulent ATCC 19660 strain. Furthermore, its dropwise administration at 40 μM to the ocular surface in a murine model of P. aeruginosa keratitis (three times daily, for 5 days post-infection) resulted in a significant reduction of infection. The mean clinical score was 2.89 ± 0.26 compared to 3.92 ± 0.08 for the vehicle control. In addition, the corneal level of viable bacteria in the peptide treated animals was significantly lower with a difference of 4 log10 colony counts, compared to 7.7 log10 cells recovered in the control. In parallel, recruitment of inflammatory cells was reduced by half compared to that found in the untreated eyes. Similar results were obtained when esculentin-1a(1-21)NH2 was applied prior to induction of keratitis. Overall, our findings highlight esculentin-1a(1-21)NH2 as an attractive candidate for the development of novel topical pharmaceuticals against Pseudomonas keratitis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-627
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number3
Early online date3 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


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